The partnership between the Council and the University aims to be a one-stop-shop for East Lothian businesses, providing a business information service, free impartial advice and assistance, as well as free workshop and seminar opportunities to a variety of businesses. It is envisaged that the Business Gateway will be an invaluable resource to small business start-up companies but it also aims to go beyond that by providing a variety of support services for further developed organisations.
Councillor John McMillan, East Lothian Council’s spokesperson for Economic Development and Tourism, said: “84% of businesses employ fewer than 10 people. In the current climate, it’s important that we provide good support to help entrepreneurs make their ideas a reality, as well as offering tailored support to new and developing businesses.”
He continued: “Queen Margaret University is important to the East Lothian economy in terms of employment, higher education, training, student and visitor spend. We believe that housing Business Gateway within the University is an excellent solution – it will provide easily accessible information for entrepreneurial graduates who may be considering starting up their own businesses, as well as advice for new start-ups and established local businesses. The development of this important new resource brings university expertise together with the needs of our business community and should also assist in reducing rising unemployment levels within the county by making the Business Gateway more geographically accessible.”
Rosalyn Marshall, Queen Margaret University’s Vice Principal (Resources and Development)
Rosalyn confirmed: “This is a very positive move for the existing and emerging business community, QMU and the county as a whole.”
The move is also part of QMU’s wider plans to increase engagement with SMEs, with the development of a Business Innovation Zone. As well as the Business Gateway, the Zone will also incorporate new business incubation space. This will offer accommodation and other facilities to small business start-ups and QMU graduates who are setting up their own businesses. This development aims to tie in with the government agendas of kick starting employment opportunities for younger people.
One of the first fledgling companies to be supported by QMU’s new Business Innovation Zone is Raw Film Productions. The corporate video and documentary production company, which is still in its first year of operation, is run by Agata Jagodzinska, QMU media graduate and recent BAFTA award winner. Agata runs Rawfilm Productions with business partner Michael Grant, also a QMU Film and Media graduate.
Agata said: “It’s really tough to get a new company up and running in the current climate. To be provided with start-up space at the University helps to provide a solid base for us to develop our business. It relieves the pressure and allows us to concentrate on developing new leads and securing contracts for our new company. It is providing us with a tremendous start to our careers and we couldn’t be more grateful for the support. We are also looking forward to tapping into the help and advice which will soon be on offer from Business Gateway.”
Rosalyn concluded: “Universities need to be responsive to changing economic times. These important developments allow us, not only to support external businesses, but to strengthen our work in the area of graduate employment by promoting entrepreneurship and business start-up as a viable career option.”
The new Business Gateway at QMU will launch in Autumn 2012. Further details will be announced in due course – www.qmu.ac.uk and www.eastlothian.gov.uk