Fabrics, wall coverings and furnishings influenced by geological structures are amongst the products being developed by enterprising Geology student Josephine Canning at the University of Leeds.
After winning a highly competitive place on the University’s ‘Year in Enterprise’ programme, Josephine is taking a year out of her degree studies to set up and run her own business, supported by the University’s business start-up service, Spark – after which she’ll return to complete her degree in the Faculty of Environment.
The University is a pioneer of the ‘Year in Enterprise’ programmes in the UK, through which students are offered a fantastic opportunity to get a foothold in business, with top-class office space, specialist training, mentoring, networking and professional business advice from staff at The Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES) and additional support from Spark, the University’s business start-up service. In addition, each student receives a £5k grant, funded by a local business, University alumni, or a private donor to support them during the year.
Josephine has networked with CEES’ Enterprise Ambassadors, all of whom are successful entrepreneurs, both as mentors and advisors at various stages of her business journey. She also works closely with her academic supervisor on her portfolio which offers a creative opportunity to capture her experience of business start-up across her Year in Enterprise.
Starting a business was something Josephine had always aspired towards. She explains: “Once I had refined my business idea, I put so much time into my application and business plan, making sure the judges could see my entrepreneurial spirit. As a Year in Enterprise student, I’m in an environment where everyone wants me to succeed. This makes the whole process much less isolating and gives it a real social aspect.”
The programme also gave Josephine access to attend a Global Entrepreneurship Camp, in South Korea. The boot camp, in collaboration with Spark and hosted by KAIST University, was an intensive 2-week educational and leadership session, which brought together many young entrepreneurs from around the world. It provided an incredible opportunity to be exposed to new cultures and perspectives, to exchange and share ideas with other participants.
“It was a very special experience to meet so many enthusiastic and like-minded people, from all backgrounds, and to interact so closely with their speakers and mentors,” says Josephine. “I knew I had so much to learn and it helped me structure my ideas and focus on what my next steps needed to be once I returned home.”
Championed by the Spark team, she also applied for – and won – a University of Leeds Enterprise Scholarship, which is funded by University alumni, and worth £3,000. The additional funding has helped Josephine develop her website and explore other marketing tools, research exhibiting opportunities and source external business and manufacturing partners. View Josephine’s website here.
Acknowledging the role that the University has played in encouraging her to develop her business and the support network they’ve created, she says: “This Scholarship has really boosted my knowledge and confidence and has helped me build skills that I will use, not only in my future studies, but as I leave Leeds University and further my career. The University has invested in me personally and I have had such an amazing experience. I’m very grateful for all their support.”