Nick Dixon, Head of the Launchpad Programme, Falmouth University

Please tell us a bit about the Falmouth University Launchpad programme. What was the incentive to start the programme? Why was there a focus on tech companies in particular?

Launchpad is a graduate incubation and acceleration programme designed to build new high growth businesses to meet market demand in just 12 months. It is also an innovative method of graduate incubation as it is underpinned by a specially designed one-year MA Entrepreneurship programme, where setting up new high growth business becomes the learning vehicle. This means students both build a new business and gain a Masters Degree at the same time. Launchpad works because its unique methodology reverses the normal supply side approach to both business and to business education. Instead of an entrepreneur developing their individual idea and then seeking investment from the market. Launchpad first starts by identifying the market gap alongside an industry partner. We then recruit graduate talent into teams of 4 to develop a market-ready solution to meet the demand. Launchpad is located in Cornwall, one of the most economically deprived regions in the UK. This is a region that desperately needs more new companies in high growth sectors and the Launchpad programme and methodology is perfectly positioned to deliver those companies. Digital companies don’t rely on the usual supply chains that can hamper exporting business development from remote rural locations. They can be truly global without leaving their desks.

What skills does the programme try to teach? Commercial know how or hard tech skills?

Both – we teach them all the skills they need to evaluate a market opportunity, build a high-performance team and investable company. We will further their technical skills through hard, real application.

How does the programme work with local businesses?

Some local businesses will become industry partners that supply challenges, though these are predominantly globally recognised companies. Each graduate team will also work with two local businesses to offer real and valid business support as a part of the process.

How many businesses or individual entrepreneurs has it now supported?

The pilot programme incorporated six businesses with 19 Directors. 3 of those businesses secured private investment of over £450K. We will be incorporating at least 32 companies across the full programme with an associated 128 jobs generated.

What are some examples of companies which have gone on to grow successfully and create jobs in the region?

Hertzian are an award winning software company with a first to market application in artificial intelligence applied to the aggregation of online data. They have secured contracts with the largest global games publisher as well as future business with the NHS. The company has secured additional investment to build their commercial portfolio and have both employed additional staff as well as interns and apprentices.

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