Bright sparks to ignite in University's new ABVenture Zone

Bright sparks to ignite in University's new ABVenture Zone

Students, staff and alumni of the University of Aberdeen - together with local start-ups - can now develop their business ideas from concept to market in a new, state-of-the-art ABVenture Zone, designed to inspire and nurture clever digital ideas with the potential to become successful businesses.

Student and staff entrepreneurs gathered on Monday, March 25, with local MSPs, civic and business leaders and successful University spin-out companies, as University Principal Professor Sir Ian Diamond formally opened the ABVenture Zone in the University’s MacRobert Building on the King’s College campus.

Also joining guests was internet entrepreneur Ajaz Ahmed, founder of Freeserve, the UK’s largest internet service provider, now owned by Wanadoo. 

The £485,000 digital innovation incubator is part of the Accelerate Aberdeen programme, funded through Aberdeen City Council under the UK Department of Culture, Media and Sport Superconnected Cities initiative. Partner organisations receiving funding under the same scheme are Robert Gordon University and Elevator.

The aim of the ABVenture Zone is to support fledgling businesses and encourage entrepreneurs to develop new products and services. The Zone is designed as an inspiring place for students, staff, alumni and local start-up companies to plan and develop their business ideas, and to connect and collaborate with other enterprise-minded individuals. It also provides a focus within the University of Aberdeen for events, teaching and training in entrepreneurship.

Users will be able to take advantage of state-of-the-art communication technology and high quality digital infrastructure including high-spec computers, laser scanners, 3D printers and private cloud storage, and with a comfortable social space for relaxation, stimulating discussion and collaboration.

As well as providing infrastructure to allow people to grow their initial business idea, the University will also provide a programme of support to help teach key business skills alongside the Scottish Institute of Enterprise (SIE). A boot camp later this week for postgraduate students will take them from idea to investor-ready pitch.

Welcoming guests to the launch of ABVenture Zone, Professor Diamond said: “We have a brilliant pedigree in this University for growing and applying clever ideas. Over the centuries they have emerged through the science and technology of the day, and impacted on society and economy well beyond Scotland.  Our track record is evidenced by the acknowledgement of our world-class research impact, and our success in taking pure research to market through spin-out companies operating in many areas of health and technology.

“But we are not just about technology. We are also about people – and about helping people achieve their dreams. This exciting new facility is a further reason why students from all over the UK and from across world should make this university their number-one choice to develop their career and achieve their dreams.”

Dr Liz Rattray, Deputy Director of Research and Innovation at the University, heads the Enterprise Campus programme across the University, funded by the Scottish Funding Council. Dr Rattray added: “We are delighted to be hosting this superb facility for colleagues, students and teams to work up their clever ideas and grow them into businesses, with the support of experts and mentors. It can also support start-up businesses from outside the University.

“This initiative complements and adds huge value to our programme to create a culture of entrepreneurship across our campus, with a package of initiatives including later this week a two-day Enterprise Campus boot camp for postgraduate students looking to take their business ideas from the back-of-an-envelope to an ‘elevator pitch’, weekly drop in support sessions, and help for students and staff bidding to continue our run of success in business competitions including the national Converge Challenge.”

The ABVenture Zone was the name chosen through an internal competition won by staff member Nykohla Strong.

Accelerate Aberdeen is an ambitious programme of work to provide Aberdeen with the world class infrastructure and business development platforms to secure the long term vibrancy of the City's economy.