Student-led start-ups receive £100,000 in funding from Queen’s in boost to local economy

  • A number of innovative student and graduate-led businesses are to receive a share of £100,000 in funding from Queen’s University Belfast, as part of its new ‘InQUBate’ initiative.

    A boost to the Northern Irish economy, where start-ups are less common than other parts of the UK, this new university initiative aims to support student and graduate innovation and enterprise through funding, Queen’s world-class teaching, expert mentoring from local entrepreneurs, and the opportunity for further investment from QUBIS, the university’s commercialisation arm. This package of benefits will help further build on the existing success of Queen’s start-ups.

    Student and graduate start-ups had the opportunity to pitch their innovative business ideas to a panel of experts from across Queen’s, its esteemed alumni network, and local enterprise organisations.

    Five bold, forward-thinking entrepreneurial endeavours coming out on top. These were:

    • Inclusive Law: An online platform that connects vulnerable clients from marginalised communities with legal professionals aiming to simplify and humanise the process of finding legal support.
    • From My Perspective: Working with hospice patients to create lasting legacies through audio recordings of their stories and memories in a personalised keepsake box.
    • AA+: A revolutionary new workflow approach to allergen management in kitchens, reducing the burden of regulation in hospitality.
    • Go Plugable: Billed as the Airbnb of domestic electric vehicle charging, this app allows hosts to rent out their home charger to drivers.
    • BrandCanvas: An AI-powered graphic design service providing fast, custom designs, and additionally their first product, AI Food Photographer, is transforming amateur photos into professional quality images.

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    Winning a share of the prize money, Khaula Bhutta, Queen’s Law graduate and founder of Inclusive Law, said:

    I am absolutely thrilled to be selected as one of the winning Queen’s start-ups. This support package will be of great value to me as I begin to grow my business. I’m most looking forward to working closely with university experts and local business people to build my knowledge and understanding of what makes a successful company. I’d encourage anyone who might even just have a great idea, or is working on a side hustle and not yet thinking of themselves as an entrepreneur, to get in touch with the InQUBate network and see how they might be able to support you. I’m really excited to see what the future has in store and I can’t thank Queen’s and its staff enough.”

    A number of departments across Queen’s support the development of entrepreneurs and enterprise skills, and are collaborating under the umbrella of InQUBate, with the aim of building on the successful track record of its existing commercialisation arm QUBIS.

    InQUBate is supporting students by:

    • Working with academic staff to anchor entrepreneurial education within the curriculum - both supporting the good practice that already exists, and co-creating new module developments across a range of subjects.
    • Offering students additional extra-curricular programmes and workshops to develop the mindset and competencies required for entrepreneurial effectiveness.
    • Joining an international network of entrepreneurial universities and incubators called Start For Future, with opportunities to collaborate with colleagues across Europe.
    • Post-graduation, Queen’s is offering a graduate accelerator programme to support those who wish to found their own companies.

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    Congratulating the InQUBate winners, Director of Innovation and CEO of QUBIS, Brian McCaul said:

    “It is an incredibly exciting time for innovation and entrepreneurship here at Queen’s and we are delighted to see this next generation of entrepreneurs emerging from our university.

    “As an anchor institution here in Northern Ireland, we are passionate about supporting new entrepreneurs in what is a low start-up economy. This fact makes the work of Queen’s even more important – if we can help create 10 or 15 businesses a year that make up for that lack of start-up activity, provide a stream of bright young entrepreneurs, invest and create, that will have an incredible impact.

    “Our impressive network of alumni and supporters across the globe have extensive experience across all kinds of sectors, so we are keen to open up that incredibly valuable repository of knowledge to our entrepreneur community. We are already seeing the benefits with some of the connections made and are looking forward to seeing what the next few months and years bring.”

    Source: Written from press release 

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