News from our growing ecosystem

‘Growing a thriving startup culture’ – Future Worlds is runner-up at Guardian University Awards

As the only team shortlisted from the University of Southampton for this year’s Guardian University Awards, it was a real honour to take the trip to the beautiful venue of LSO St Luke’s yesterday evening. The room was buzzing with hopeful nominees from universities right across the UK and we were soon chatting to the team from the University of Greenwich who had also been nominated in our Entrepreneurship category. Their initiative sounded impressive and we could tell they too were driven by the desire to help young entrepreneurs succeed in their fledgling ventures.

As an impressively crafted selection of exotic canapés and colourful cocktails were waved under our noses we decided to select our table for the night having been pre-warned the event had no specified seating plan. We settled on a table to the front left of the stage, just behind one of the main sponsor groups, and introduced ourselves to the three individuals already there. By sheer co-incidence they just happened to be Falmouth University, the other team shortlisted for our category so we got chatting to them about the initiative they had put forward.

Their project involved assembling individuals into startups targeted specifically at solving challenges set by large corporates. They had incredibly secured over £12 million of mostly EU funding for their Launchpad initiative, an achievement in itself, and it sounded to be doing extremely well. Not all of the individuals sourced for these startups are from Falmouth University indeed we are currently advertising one of their opportunities in our own ENGAGE section.

Clearly the competition was stiff, but either way it was great to see such a large number of people highly committed to supporting startup and spinout creation across the country. Our goal at Future Worlds is to unconditionally help entrepreneurs from the University of Southampton, but the underlying mission of growing an authentic and meaningful startup culture in the UK extends well beyond the borders of our institution.

As the prizes were announced, Alex, Sophie and I grew more nervous, despite the effortless and natural delivery of the host, one of Alex’s heroes, Lauren Laverne. Finally the shortlisting was read out for the Entrepreneurship category and we discovered, to our disappointment, that Falmouth had won the judges vote. Now, like many entrepreneurs, I don’t really do ‘not winning’, and this was no exception! It would be a lie to say we weren’t desperately hoping that we had been selected to receive the award. However, we soon reflected on just how much we had achieved, with such a tiny core team, in such a short space of time.

Future Worlds is extremely proud to have been one of three finalists in the Entrepreneurship category, to which over twenty universities applied, and that honour should be shared not just by the team, but by the mentors, the entrepreneurs and everyone who has been a part of our journey so far. In the years to come there will be more awards, some we will win some we will lose, but what really matters is that we continue, year on year, to grow the startup culture at Southampton, and in doing that help our amazing innovators change the world with their ideas.

Re-live the excitement from the Guardian University Awards ceremony with our tweets from the night:

You can read Future Worlds Director Reuben Wilcock‘s reaction to the Guardian University Awards shortlisting earlier this month in an exclusive blog.

Follow @futureworlds on Twitter for all the latest news for our ecosystem and visit our Facebook page to engage more with our entrepreneurial network.

Get in touch with Reuben Wilcock

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Reuben Wilcock

Director, Future Worlds

Reuben co-founded Future Worlds, the on-campus startup incubator helping aspiring entrepreneurs to change the world with their ideas. He is Principal Enterprise Fellow for the Faculty of Physical Science and Engineering and a serial entrepreneur, having launched a number of startups, including Joulo Ltd, a successful university spinout acquired in 2014.

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