The University of Hertfordshire has today unveiled its new £12m Enterprise Hub at its De Havilland campus in Hatfield. Part-funded by a £2.5m Local Growth Fund investment from Hertfordshire LEP, the Enterprise Hub will significantly enhance and expand existing support available to businesses in the region.

The Enterprise Hub provides flexible business incubation, office space, teaching and social areas under one roof, to facilitate greater collaboration between students, academics and the business community.

The University is dedicated to stimulating a strong entrepreneurial learning environment while educating staff and students on the challenges that modern businesses face. The Enterprise Hub provides additional space for the University’s MBA and expanding degree apprenticeship offering, with the latter seeing a 51% increase in learners despite the pandemic, with new courses planned for 2021.

Through its all campus incubator scheme, start-ups and entrepreneurs have the chance to use the University’s campus and resources and gain access to top academic experts, skilled graduates, facilities and equipment hire. All member businesses take part in a ‘community of practice’, which provides a unique opportunity for them to learn from and support each other, and be guided by highly experienced mentors. There are currently 70 active members, with the University having supported over 40 businesses to get through the challenges of their first year of operation.

The University offers support for larger organisations, including the chance to secure funding for research and development through opportunities like Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, as well as graduate placements, degree apprenticeships and Continuing Professional Development (CPD) opportunities.

Alongside Exemplas and Hertfordshire Chamber of Commerce, the University is also a key consortium partner for Hertfordshire Growth Hub, the county’s go-to business support service funded by Hertfordshire LEP and Government. The Growth Hub is a gateway to a comprehensive range of business advice, resources, support and events, designed to help Hertfordshire businesses to start, grow, scale and innovate, as well as to increase their business resilience amidst the Coronavirus pandemic.

Julie Newlan, Pro Vice-Chancellor (Business and International Development) at the University of Hertfordshire, said: “It’s vital that businesses have access to the right support, particularly during this challenging period, and the Enterprise Hub contributes significantly to the existing support we already provide at Herts. The Enterprise Hub will allow us to enhance and expand our community of practice, where entrepreneurs, with the support of their peers and like-minded professionals, can discuss their challenges in a supportive environment and meet them head-on.”

Adrian Hawkins, Chair of Hertfordshire LEP’s Skills & Employment Board said: “The Enterprise Hub provides an inspirational environment in which businesses can network with peers, access vital support, and benefit from the expertise of a world-class university with a reputation for championing entrepreneurship. It brings education and enterprise together under one roof, providing valuable collaboration opportunities, as well as first-class facilities for students and academics.

“Despite the barriers posed by COVID-19, the take-up from Hertfordshire businesses to date has been incredibly encouraging. Our funding is an investment in their future growth and prosperity, and we urge all those who are eligible for support to find out more.”

Two local businesses have already moved into office space in the Enterprise Hub and it is expected that six out of the seven available offices will be filled by the end of 2020. Many more businesses have actively used the hub’s incubation space, including Nexus Learn Arabic, a start-up founded by Jamal A-Tamimi, which provides an online platform to help people learn the Arabic language.

Jamal said: “I’ve had support from the University of Hertfordshire for the last two years and as a result I have seen my business grow. I was excited to be able to launch Nexus Learn Arabic earlier this year and we have just launched the beta version of our platform. The backing I have received from the University has been vital to its early success and being able to work flexibly at the Enterprise Hub has been invaluable. The entrepreneurial environment keeps me focused and the knowledge I have gained from engaging with other entrepreneurs has helped grow my business.”

Minister for Regional Growth and Local Government, Luke Hall MP said: “We’re proud to be backing the University of Hertfordshire’s new Enterprise Hub with a £2.5 million Local Growth Fund investment.

“It’s great news that the hub will be home to six local businesses by the end of the year, providing them with crucial support and offering students the opportunity for industry-led learning. We’re supporting vital collaboration between academia and industry to drive forward innovation across the country.”

For more information on the University’s new Enterprise Hub and business support services please visit: go.herts.ac.uk/enterprisehub.