...So, we invited some friends to join us and built a collaborative model that demonstrably espoused our values – how can you coach and mentor entrepreneurs in growth, innovation and disruptive business models if you can’t demonstrate that yourself? That, I fear, will always be a potential trap of delivering business incubation from within the university environment: outside of the research lab, university culture is often not entrepreneurial or comfortable with risk. I strongly believe that leadership symbols are important and so we have created, in Engine Shed, and an environment which is fundamentally about risk taking.
We borrowed £1.2 million of risk capital from the city council (secured within six weeks of writing the business plan), secured £500,000 from the University and elsewhere, and refurbished the old station. We forged a ground-breaking collaboration agreement between the city council and the university (the two largest and perhaps known as the least entrepreneurial institutions in the city) and built a business model that shared risk between the parties.
Tomorrow's final instalment... Engine Shed – a platform for change.