What is the RGU Startup Accelerator programme?
Do you have a business idea and not sure what to do next? The Startup Accelerator is a process that allows members of RGU and NESCol communities to turn their ideas into a real business. These ideas can be digital, physical, services or more-than-profit applications. Your ideas could be based on the intellectual property of either institution, or maybe spread across a range of industries and applications? Whatever your speciality, we are looking for committed co-founders, preferably as a team, who want to create innovative new startup companies. Here’s how we can help you…
The new RGU-run accelerator follows a ‘best practice’ model of mentor-led lean startup methodology and includes using key international models for startup development. Each cohort will be up to 30 startup teams, with funding per team of up to £10,000. A new mentor group is being established to support the rapid development of these startup teams.
This process is open to current staff, students and recent alumni (up to three years of graduation from Sept 2018). Only one member of the founding team needs to be an RGU or NESCol participant, to ensure that diverse teams apply. The online application or the 18-19 cohort opens on 17 September 2018 and closes on 18 November 2018 at 11.59pm.
Those teams selected for the accelerator will begin their six months process in early January 2019.
The whole process is run by the newly established RGU Entrepreneurship and Innovation Group (EIG), based in the University's Sir Ian Wood Building, and will partner with NESCol as part of the TWO PLUS alliance. In 2019 an additional operation will open in the new Opportunity North East Digital Entrepreneurship Tech Hub, where all the accelerator startups (digital or not) will have 24/7 access to hot desk space, training spaces, break-out rooms for meeting and access to the new mentor group.
Successful Entrepreneural teams will get:
- Enrolment on our 6 month accelerator programme, starting in January 2018
- Up to £10k in financial support per team to launch your business
- Opportunity to present at Showcase event for further funding
- Opportunity to meet investors
- Access to free co-working office space for incubation period
- Mentoring from subject matter experts
- Access to dedicated and highly experienced RGU team
- Access to AULA engagement tool – a communication platform for education
- Networking events with peers
- Lifelong alumni membership of RGU Accelerator programme
Interested in what’s on offer but not sure if you qualify? Here’s more information on what we’re looking for:
Entrepreneurial teams - with at least one of the team affiliated with Robert Gordon University
An affiliate is a student (undergraduate or post graduate, full-time of part time), a member of staff, postdoc researcher, visiting scholar or an alum who has graduated within the last 3 years (from August 2018). Founders who are foreign nationals should check T&Cs for eligibility.
We value the team over all else. We look for the right people with the right mix of skills, attitudes and experience for their particular business. Startup is a team sport and we discourage solo applicants. And you need resilience - you’re going to be told your ‘baby is ugly.’ Can you handle it? The best entrepreneurs can take critical feedback and use it to improve.
Evidence of strong business potential
This could come in the form of revenue, users, customer interviews, a demo, a prototype, or a patent or significant scientific/technical breakthrough. One factor of being an investable high-growth company means a sizable market where the earnings potential is significant.
We need commitment from your team and willingness to work hard. Teams must be growth-orientated and ready to begin interacting with mentors and potential investors. We require at least one of the founders be ‘full time’ –or moving toward becoming ‘full time’ - in the business and in the locale.
A few key dates critical to the programme to bear in mind:
Competition Phase (2 months)
- From Monday 17 September - start of online competition phase.
- Until Sunday 18 November - online competition closes at 11:59pm.
Pre-Accelerator Phase (2 weeks)
All startup founders are expected to attend all these sessions.
- Tuesday 8 January 2019 - Startup Accelerator Orientation from 6pm to 8pm
- Thursday 10 January 2019 - Startup Accelerator First Mentor Sessions from 6pm to 8pm
- Saturday 12 January 2019 - Startup Accelerator Bootcamp from 10am to 4pm
- Sunday 13 January 2019 - Startup Accelerator Bootcamp from 11am to 3pm
- Tuesday 15 January 2019 - Follow-up on Customer Discovery from 6pm to 8pm
- Thursday 17 January 2019 - Follow-up on Business Model from 6pm to 8pm
Full Accelerator Phase (January until April)
Additional Tuesday, Thursday evening and weekend sessions will continue at various times from January until April 2019 as well as individual startup/First Mentor meetings.
Over forty regional, national and international judges have volunteered to be part of the startup accelerator process. These individuals have significant backgrounds in entrepreneurship, innovation, design thinking, venture capital, intellectual property, strategy, leadership and commercialisation of new technology with experience across a wide range of industries globally.
Here is a small sample of the profiles of some of these accelerator judges:
- Mark Crowell, United States.
Mark provides strategic planning and program development advice and consulting services in the areas of innovation, engagement, entrepreneurship and translational research to universities, boards, regional and national governing and development authorities, and private industry.
- Ms. Jennifer Kenny, United States.
Jennifer speaks, mentors, trains and facilitates on the topic of applied transformation as an innovative practice, with a specific focus on two of the big levers of transformation: technology and gender diversity.
- Roger Connon, Scotland.
A recently retired partner of international law firm Pinsent Masons LLP ("PM") who was previously head of its Aberdeen office and head of corporate, he has over 30 years’ experience in corporate and commercial law specialising in the Oil and Gas sector, acting for UK and foreign oil service companies and independent Exploration & Production companies.
- Dr Leo Bishop, Ireland.
Leonora leads business development within HiTech Health, bringing over 20 years of experience working in the Life Sciences sector with startups, government organisations and academic institutions.
- Brian Hayes, Ireland.
Acting chairman of Global Currency Exchange Limited trading as Continuum Commerce whose principal customers are the global airlines.
- Dr. Sarah Ghaleb, Saudi Arabia/United States.
Currently General Manager, Education & Poverty Alleviation Initiatives, Abdul Latif Jameel Community Initiatives, Community Initiatives in Saudi Arabia.
- Charlie Lewis, United States.
Charlie Lewis has been Senior Vice President of Venture Development at Arizona Science & Technology Enterprises (AZTE) since June 30, 2016.
- Tony Kelly, Ireland.
Tony is the former CEO of Irish online technology success story, Demonware, as well as an investor in & adviser to several technology startups.