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Durham University

Careers & Enterprise Centre

DICE Summative Assessment

Introduction

Durham Internship and Collaborative Enterprise (DICE) is a collaborative project between Durham University and Business Durham, the economic development arm of Durham County Council. The ERDF funded project which began in May 2018 was then given a subsequent project extension in 2020 and is now due to close in June 2023.

The project aims to boost the number of start-ups and support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) through a multi-strand approach of:

- A subsidised SME Internship programme – offering up to 50% intern salary costs for SMEs based in County Durham.

- Durham City Incubator – A fully funded Accelerator programme for Durham-based owners and entrepreneurs

- Student Enterprise - Support for students and graduates to explore business ideas and launch new ventures.

Project Rationale

The DICE project emerged out of on-going discussions between the University and Business Durham in attempt to increase business start-up rates, support business innovation/growth and increase graduate retention in the area.

Intended project outputs include:

- Improve business innovation, sustainability and growth of SMEs via knowledge transfer through internships

- Increased graduate retention via Internships and new business creation/incubation

- Increased number of scalable start-ups in the region;

- Facilitate collaborative working between the Local Authority, University, business support organisations and SMEs in Durham

Project activity

DICE Internships

The internship strand offered a grant of up to 50% salary grant for full-time or part-time internships for businesses with a base within County Durham. Roles are open to Durham University students or graduates only and internships must be focussed on a specific project to support the business to develop a new product or service.

Enterprise

The Enterprise support programme aims to support students and graduates to explore their entrepreneurial ambitions and develop their skills. With support programmes for each stage of business development and a pipeline to the Durham City Incubator this strand contributes to the increasing number of start ups in the region through; advice and business coaching, funding opportunities, workshops, events and business challenges.

Durham City Incubator “DCI”

Durham City Incubator provides a free, six month programme, to new growth ventures that have been trading for less than 12 months and are based in Durham. DCI provides; shared workspace in Salvus House, mentoring, one to one support, workshops, networking and events, access to specialist consultants, access to like-minded entrepreneurs and a start-up grant.

Impact

The Interim Summative Assessment, carried out at the end of Phase one of the project (Jan 2021) concluded the following outputs:

- £3.3mil gross value added (For every £1 of public sector investment £4.34 GVA has been generated)

- 43% increase in enterprise activity, accompanying evidence that students are developing more increased ideas

- Increased growth capacity of SMEs (19% increase in employment, 21% increase in turnover)

- 67% of SMEs surveyed were supported to develop a new product or service

- 133% increase in the number of start-ups

- Increase in start-ups attracting £100k+ of investment

- Excellent work experience and graduate level opportunities for students and graduates.

- Increased graduate retention in the region and increased awareness of regional opportunities

- Developed collaborative working and information sharing between the Local Authority, University, business support organisations and SMEs in County Durham.

The project was extended in April 2020 and will now run until July 2023. The project extension will also lead to the launch of ORBIT, Durham Universities new Enterprise Zone based in NETpark which offers businesses access to a prototype lab, hot desks, and meeting facilities.

Stakeholder feedback

Intern

Most importantly, for the first time in my life I got to do independent research which had no correct answers and no supervisor who knew all the answers. I had to become the expert in my narrow field and do the best job I could. The Internship at Pragmatic definitely looks ideal on a CV and will make finding other placements much easier. Overall, I would say I levelled up multiple times during the internship and going back to the university feels like a piece of cake.”
Student intern

SME

As a newly founded startup, there are SO many things that need to be done to make the business a success. And as with most startups, cash is (extremely) tight, a founders time is (severely) stretched, and competent resources are (very) hard to come by! But I’ve managed to help solve these problems through the excellent support of the DICE programme. Taxigoat has benefitted immensely from the recruitment of curious, creative and competent students from Durham University, at a significantly subsidised cost. The student support has enabled Taxigoat to grow at a rate that simply wouldn’t have been possible with the capital that was available. Aside from the benefits the DICE programme has brought to Taxigoat, I thoroughly enjoy working with all the students, offering them my own advice & guidance, which hopefully they will use in their future careers (perhaps even at Taxigoat!)As a newly founded startup, there are SO many things that need to be done to make the business a success. And as with most startups, cash is (extremely) tight, a founders time is (severely) stretched, and competent resources are (very) hard to come by! But I’ve managed to help solve these problems through the excellent support of the DICE programme. Taxigoat has benefitted immensely from the recruitment of curious, creative and competent students from Durham University, at a significantly subsidised cost. The student support has enabled Taxigoat to grow at a rate that simply wouldn’t have been possible with the capital that was available. Aside from the benefits the DICE programme has brought to Taxigoat, I thoroughly enjoy working with all the students, offering them my own advice & guidance, which hopefully they will use in their future careers (perhaps even at Taxigoat!)"

Enterprise

"The Enterprise team are great and have helped us significantly in the development of the business idea, whether that be through providing a 1-2-1 business support/sounding board, support through workshops and a plethora of other services. They always go above and beyond and really care about the students they are helping."

Enterprise Student

DCI Participant

I would strongly encourage anyone starting a business in County Durham to apply for the DCI. It provides vital support at a time when it’s make or break for a start-up. There’s no question ChatPro would not be where it is now without DCI. When you pitch, my advice would be to emphasise your ambition and the scalability of your business idea (think big). When you get a place, make the most of it. The programme is only 6-months but if you use the resources available, you can make decisive progress in that time.”

DCI Participant