17 September 2019
USW Vice-Chancellor Julie Lydon, and Hefin David AM are pictured with USW graduate entrepreneurs and USW Enterprise Manager, Emma Forouzan
From video game developers to designer home-wear businesses – Wales’ graduates are the most entrepreneurial in the UK, outperforming the rest of the country and boosting employment and prosperity.
That’s according to universities’ research, which shows Wales has 12.3% of active graduate start-ups in the UK – despite accounting for around 5% of the higher education sector.
An event at the Senedd on 17 September will celebrate the contribution made by graduate start-ups to the Welsh economy.
And Professor Julie Lydon OBE, Chair of Universities Wales – the organisation representing the nation’s higher education sector – says graduate start-ups have the potential to boost prosperity for decades to come.
She said: “We have worked to highlight the innovative and valuable contribution these businesses make to Wales and the ways in which universities support those students and graduates on their start-up journey.
“Wales performs well on graduate start-ups. The annual Higher Education Business and Community Interaction survey consistently finds that Wales outperforms the rest of the UK on the number of graduate start-ups we have per capita and these start-ups are more likely to last three years or more than those elsewhere in the UK.”
The 2017/18 higher education business-community interaction survey found there are 1,635 active graduate start-ups in Wales.
It is a number which has been steadily growing year-on-year, with 1,233 active graduate start-ups in Wales in 2014/15.
It comes after 2016/17 data showed that, of the UK graduate start-ups that have operated for at least three years, 12.3% are in Wales.
Graduate start-ups receive a range of support from universities in Wales and Welsh Government including funding, bursaries, mentoring and working space. But more can be done to support graduate start-ups, Professor Lydon says.
“The start-ups that we’ve engaged with throughout this work show us the breadth of the businesses generated by students and graduates,” she said.
“Everyone’s start-up journey is different, and although all were at different stages of that journey they shared an enthusiasm and entrepreneurial spirit that should be championed and celebrated.
“There are opportunities for us to provide a more consistent offer, and to build further links with local businesses that can help start-ups further connect to their local communities.
“And similarly, there are opportunities for other stakeholders to think about how they can offer good working space for start-ups, and opportunities for start-ups to meet, network and collaborate.”
Hefin David AM, chair of the cross-party group for universities at the National Assembly for Wales, said: "Wales' universities are producing graduates burning with ideas and ambition. And they are proving to be vital cogs in the national economy.
"Nurturing and developing this sector is crucial in creating a vibrant and diverse economy, where sustainable wealth creation is celebrated and given support from Government, the private sector and universities themselves."
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