Magee University has unveiled an innovative new pilot programme which will see student entrepreneurs earn full course credits for starting a business in their final year. It is thought to be the first programme of its kind within a creative industries course in Europe.
Speaking ahead of the announcement, Head of School, Professor Paul Moore explained: "The School of Creative Arts at Magee has an enviable track record at producing first-rate graduates but increasingly the creative industries are becoming a source for new startup companies and it's vital that the work we do reflects this. We see entrepreneurship within the creative industries as a viable and exciting career path and so are keen to work with students to develop their ideas and help them start and run their own businesses. Providing them with the opportunity to do it in their final year, and gain full course credits in the process, turns it from being a theoretical exercise into a real, tangible opportunity."
In addition to assistance from their course tutors, students electing to take the module will be provided with both legal and financial support from the University's Office of Innovation. They will also take part in a range of workshops and seminars delivered by local entrepreneurs and organised by Digital Derry, who have partnered with the University to develop the programme.
Mark Nagurski, Derry's Digital Champion, explained: "Digital Derry has committed itself to helping to develop 100 new digital companies in the city by 2015 and although not every one of the businesses that will come out of this programme will be digital, we're thrilled to be involved in taking this innovative project forward. Over the last 12 months we've already worked with a number of Magee graduates who are now involved in starting their own digital businesses and can't wait to see what will come through in the next twelve."
The pilot module will officially begin in January 2012 with up to 20 students being given the chance to take part. Each student will also document their business launch online and, on graduation, get the chance to pitch their ideas for inclusion in a privately-backed business development programme being developed by Digital Derry.
Greg O'Hanlon, Course Director for the BA Creative Technologies course, one of two courses involved in the project, added: "Our students will have already developed multiple projects as part of their coursework and this new module really takes us to the next level. It’s all part of a long-term commitment to demystify what it takes to develop a business and, ultimately, be your own boss.”
"They'll go through all the necessary stages from conceptualisation to market research to prototype development through to speaking to investors. Each project team will be required to launch their businesses within the term. All participants will gain invaluable experience and a real chance to turn the companies they start into viable new careers. Although it is a pilot for now, I’m confident this has the potential to transform how we look at entrepreneurship within the University."