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Kingston University graduate start-ups means an innovative approach to office space is needed

Published on Wednesday, 07 February 2018

With Kingston University among those institutions producing the most graduate start-ups, the town needs to come up with some radical thinking to provide these entrepreneurs with the commercial space they need to grow.

According to the latest Higher Education Business and Community Interaction survey released by the Higher Education’s Statistics Agency https://www.timeshighereducation.com/data-bites/newer-universities-lead-graduate-start-ups earlier this year, many newer universities led the way when it came to new graduate start-ups being established in 2015-16.

Topping the table with 300 graduates establishing start-ups last year was the Royal College of Art with Kingston University not far behind in second place.

Universities with the highest number of active graduate start-ups in 2015-16 (including those set up previously) were the University of Central Lancashire, shortlisted for Times Higher Education’s Entrepreneurial University of the Year for three years running, with 932 followed by Kingston University in second place with 878 and the University of Wales Trinity Saint David was in third place with 567.

However, one of the biggest challenges facing young entrepreneurs is where to base their business with commercial office space in huge demand but short supply in the Kingston area which in turn continues to drive up rents.

To encourage our home-grown start-ups to stay in Kingston, we need to provide them with somewhere to work. For these young entrepreneurs, the garage or back bedroom is probably not an option unless they happen to be living at home and mum and dad have the space. As the youngest of the millennials (those born in the 1980s to the mid to late 1990s and the first generation to come of age in the 21st century), these start-uppers will probably be looking for something contemporary and very different to the office world with which older workers are more familiar.

Enter the shared office space or flexible working facility. This is something director Andrew Pollard has explored previously on his LinkedIn page https://www.linkedin.com/pulse/demand-offices-means-considering-alternative-ways-working-pollard/ .

We’re already seeing the emergence of flexible and collaborative working spaces in the area such Maple Works http://mapleworks.co.uk/ in nearby Surbiton  or Spaces in Teddington provided by Regus https://www.regus.co.uk/workspace/united-kingdom/teddington/london-teddington plus City Skyline New Malden.  https://www.cityskyline.co.uk/new-malden/ .

In 2014/15 Kingston University was at the top of the table for producing the most graduate start-ups http://www.kingston.ac.uk/news/article/1666/08-jun-2016-kingston-university-tops-the-table-for-producing-most-graduate-business-startups-in-annual-higher-education/ with 371 of its graduates starting their own companies and it was the sixth time the university had topped the table.

Kingston University’s student team, Staunchh, was Company of the Year 2016 at the United Kingdom Young Enterprise Start-Up Awards https://www.young-enterprise.org.uk/blog/2016/06/23/start-up-success-for-staunchh/. Staunchh produced a highly reflective cycling glove to address the problem of cyclists killed or injured on the roads due to poor visibility.

If we are to give these fledgling companies, the opportunity to grow and further impact our economy then we have to provide the right environment for them to flourish. It means thinking outside the box and for commercial property landlords to rethink the business usage of the space they are looking to rent. 

 

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