Three new start-ups have been launched by North East students after Teesside University teamed up with a multi-national technology firm for a 12-week internship scheme.
The university partnered with Dubai-based digital data specialists, Clicksco, for the Enterprise Internship programme, which saw 11 students participating.
By the end of the initiative, three start-ups had been generated: GigAbout, a web platform for bands and venues; The Happiest Hour, an app that matches customers to eating establishments offering discounts; and Randomizer, an app that suggests random places for people to visit on nights out.
The latter is now about to launch on Apple’s App Store, while the GigAbout group is applying for a DigitalCity Fellowship that could provide them with up to £4,000 each, covering living costs as they develop the technology further.
Professor Cliff Hardcastle, Teeside University’s deputy vice-chancellor (Research and Enterprise), said: “This was a very exciting project for the young people; it not only gave them the chance to consider establishing their own business, but also the opportunity to work with senior mentors from a very successful international business to develop those ideas.
“From our perspective, this contains in a microcosm everything about the University’s approach to encouraging a spirit of enterprise within our students.”
The programme was run by Paul Callaghan, director of TwentyThreeMiles, Clicksco’s investment fund for start-ups.
Throughout its duration, the students used lean start-up business practices, incorporating customer-focused methodology to develop a business product or idea in minimal time.
They also benefited from guidance and mentoring by Clicksco UK and university staff, as well as guests from major international technology firms including Google.
The students, who have just completed their final year at the university, will retain any Intellectual Property (IP) developed over the course of the paid internship.
Mr Callaghan said: “In 12 weeks, the teams have come from nothing to develop three minimum viable products which are ready to be put in the hands of customers.
“It’s even more pleasing to see that one of those is about to be launched on the App Store and another group are looking to take their business further.
“This is a unique form of internship and Teesside was the obvious place to run it – the University has been massively supportive.”
Steve Shutts, chief people officer at Clicksco, said: “This is a brilliant example of young enterprise in action.
“As experts in digital marketing we know just how responsive businesses need to be to the constantly changing demands placed by the online medium; these outputs are each huge testimony to how a small group, properly motivated and supported, can innovate compelling propositions from a standing start.”
Billy Floyd, a BA(Hons) Broadcast Media student who worked on the Randomizer app, described his experience as “amazing and really intense”, while Josh Allan, from the GigAbout group said: “I was thinking about doing a master’s degree, but I’ve learned so much over the past 12 weeks I really want to take the business further.”