University of Essex unveils Start-Up Hub and Games Hub at Knowledge Gateway technology park

New ideas, and new businesses, are being nurtered at a newly-launched Start-Up Hub and Games Hub on the Knowledge Gateway research and technology park at the University of Essex.

Among those at the opening event was Matt Hutnell, director of Santander Universities UK, a division of the Santander banking group which works in alliance with students and staff in higher education and which has supported the establishment of the new facilities, within the Parkside Office Village at the Knowledge Gateway.

He met with a number of students and graduates during his visit, including student Emeka Onwuezobe who is working in a team to develop lifestyle website Glamville, Essex Business School graduate Claire Parry-Witchell who is establishing a health and lifestyle consultancy and student Asen Dimitrov who is creating a “bucketlist” website to help people fulfil their lifetime dreams.

Drinks at the event were served by Zizzy Bar, a business set-up by three Essex graduates, Viktoriya Madzharska, Stefan Georgiev and Iliya Todorov, with friend Nikola Nikolov.

Mr Hutnell, who also had the chance to meet some of the teams developing new computer games and apps at the Games Hub, said: “I am really inspired by the entrepreneurial spirit and drive of students at the University of Essex.

“We’re delighted to be supporting such an important initiative that recognises the importance of encouraging these young business leaders; nurturing the next generation to dare to invent, innovate, create and be entrepreneurial.”

Prof Heather Laurie, pro-vice-chancellor (research) at the university, said: “Parkside Office Village is becoming an SME hotspot and our exciting new Start-up Hub and Games Hub bring an exciting new element to the mix.

“By encouraging and supporting bright minds, and providing the space and expertise to take ideas onto the next step, we want our student entrepreneurs to have every opportunity to become successful business people.

“Developing new talent will support out strategic aim is to make the Knowledge Gateway the location of choice in the East of England for knowledge-based enterprises in science, technology and the creative sector.”

The new Start-up Hub will offer hot-desk space for student and graduate businesses, along with mentoring, support and access to early-stage “seedcorn” financing.

It is led by the university’s newly-appointed incubation manager, Simon Mead, who has extensive experience in the private sector encouraging start-ups and in launching social enterprises.

The Games Hub is led by games developer and innovator Steve Huckle of Shark Infested Custard, a Creative England Top 10 Future Leader, working in partnership with the University of Essex with support from the Eastern Enterprise Hub.

The two hubs are part of the university’s plans to drive forward support for new and growing businesses. A £10m Innovation Centre is due to open on the Knowledge Gateway in spring next year, offering space for more than 50 start-ups including a digital creative studio space.