Recognising the exceptional entrepreneurial spirit of our students and alumni, in January 2012, UAL launched the SEED Fund to support current students and recent graduates (up to two years after graduation) who demonstrate a highly innovative and sustainable project or business plan.
The latest batch SEED Funded initiatives include an online platform aimed at facilitating sustainable lifestyle choices, an arts & culture quarterly print magazine, a lighting design company, a platform for showcasing emerging design talent and a fashion & accessories brand. Find out about these projects.
In addition to business development grants of up to £5,000, this fantastic programme offers workshops on everything from business planning and budgeting to pitching your idea and applying for funding, as well as free legal and commercial advice and mentoring from industry experts.
Now approaching its third anniversary, the SEED Fund has supported an impressive 36 projects and awarded a total of £138,000 worth of funding. We took a look back and asked one of our graduates how the SEED Fund helped him and how his project has developed:
Tell us about your project/idea/work
I wanted to develop my graduation project, a system for making edible sugar cocktail glassware, into a business.
How did you hear about the SEED Fund and what was the application process like?
I heard about SEED Fund through the business and employability centre at CSM. The application process was mainly about giving an elevator pitch of your idea and a business plan of how you intend to execute it. There is an initial round and if you make it past it you are expected to submit your product for a revision by the judging panel. The application process is extensive but very clear and comprehensive
What did the SEED Fund enable you to do?
The SEED Fund gave me an initial injection of cash which covered some of the costs of getting started, but really it was all the extra support, the workshops, mentoring and legal advice, that enabled me to make the jump from thinking simply as a designer to making more business conscious decisions.
Did UAL provide you with any other support/resources to help you get started? Is there anything else you think they should do?
I had the opportunity of joining a business evening course which was extremely useful. It was a very hands-on course which really pointed you in the right direction not only with business thinking but with more practical things like setting up a company and doing tax returns.
Do you have any plans to develop your ideas further? If so, what are they?
The core and focus of my business has changed from simply selling a product into selling a service, I think I came to this decision in a good part thanks to the experience of the SEED Fund, since I had to reassess my business plan a year later and comparing my cash flow prognostic when I applied to with my actual annual cash flow report I realised the most profitable activities were organising an event around my product, not selling it individually for the masses. My plan is to keep offering custom made products for exclusive events the way I have been doing for the past months.
What advice would you give students and graduates wanting to start out like you?
My advice would be to really believe in your product but to be open to change, and this could be the product itself or your target market. Progress comes by just diving head first, making mistakes and taking calculated risks, so don’t be afraid to try new things!
Next application deadline is 21 November 2014. Enterprise workshops, running during the week of 13 October, are available to students and alumni.
Find out more about the SEED Fund and how to apply.
Book on to one of our Enterprise Workshops.
Join our mentorship scheme and help the next generation fulfil their potential. Email email@example.com to find out more.