During the Conservative party spring conference on 6 March, Prime Minister David Cameron declared that the championing of new business ventures was the key to economic growth in Britain. In his speech given in Cardiff ahead of the budget announcement on 23 March, the Tory leader declared war on the “enemies of enterprise” and said he champions the “go-getters” and the “risk-takers”. Such positive encouragement from the government aimed towards start-up businesses is also a welcome sign for students in Scotland.

During a 17 year peak of unemployment amongst recent graduates, the opportunity for students to become their own bosses is being heralded by the University of St Andrews in partnership with the Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE). The SIE wants to help students in Scotland discover their entrepreneurial talent and start up their own
ventures. On their website they state that their mission, “is to help create new student businesses and social enterprises.”

Each university campus in Scotland has at least two SIE interns as well an enterprise advisor who all aim to promote student business ideas as well as active engagement in entrepreneurial activities. Within the University Careers’ Centre, Bonnie Hacking holds workshops and drop-in sessions for students in St Andrews who want to see their bright ideas turn into a reality.

She said “students have great ideas and with a bit of support can easily turn them into a venture. I’m seeing more students who would rather be the CEO of their own company than a graduate trainee for someone else.”

A 2010 St Andrews graduate, Ry Morgan, has already proved that help from the University and SIE has resulted in business entrepreneurship presenting itself as a valid career option. In his third year studying management at St Andrews, he became an intern for SIE and helped promote entrepreneurial activities on campus. He then went on to present his business idea, AppFax, in front of a panel of judges from SIE as part of a Big Ideas Competition which saw him win £500 in the Services Category.
Morgan is now preparing to launch his business, PleaseCycle, which aims to provide, “an out-of-box solution to help organisations inspire cycling within their workforce, vastly improving their sustainability, health and productivity.” As the business progresses, Morgan hopes to become, “the definitive corporate cycling brand and help organisations to encourage and instigate cycling.”

For those who are yet to graduate but who have a business that is up and running, there is the opportunity to enter the SIE New Venture Competition. Three students in their third year, Flo Barrow, Chloe Bernstein, and Alistair Barter, have launched Squeeze which makes fresh, homemade lemonade and is set to branch out to include alcohol cocktail versions of the drink. They had a stall at the British Golf Open and have been seen at events throughout the academic year, such as Itchy Feet. They will soon present their New Ventures idea to an SIE panel, in a similar set-up to the BBC programme Dragon’s Den, which could see Squeeze win up to £6,000 to help them on their way towards even more success.

Entrepreneurship starts with bright ideas of which there are many in St Andrews. A windproof umbrella, an English business school in China, a Japanese fusion takeaway company and a French macaron business have been just a few of the ideas recently presented to other students and staff. As deadlines for summer internships and graduate positions arise, it appears that many students are also planning to write ‘CEO’ on their CV sooner rather than later.

Rachel Hanretty

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