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Northumbria University - Hatchery


Start/End Dates

Roger Candy and Graham Baty began working full-time on enterprise activities within Northumbria University in April 2004.  They established The Hatchery in April 2004.

Graham Baty, Enterprise Support Manager oversees the Hatchery and business start-up support to students/graduates at Northumbria.

His colleague, Roger Candy, is the Business Partnerships Manager with overall responsibility for Student and Graduate Enterprise, he mainly focuses on developing enterprise in the curriculum.

The Hatchery was originally based in a portakabin on the University's City Campus West. These premises were not ideal due to a number of issues including lack of security and temperature control.

In September 2008, The Hatchery was moved to a more permanent residence in the Wynne-Jones Building on City Campus West.


Type of Project 

Existing site within Northumbria's Wynne-Jones Building, on the University's City Campus West site.


Case Study tags: learning spaces, refurbishment, northumbria university, business start-up, north-east england, business and community engagement (bce)higher education



Northumbria has been actively developing and encouraging enterprise activity for students, graduates and staff at the institution over a number of years. Northumbria has Enterprise embedded across the institution and its curriculum. As a result of the continuing success of enterprise activity it became apparent that it was necessary to introduce and develop a wide ranging support network of incubation facilities - both on and off-campus.
The original Hatchery at Northumbria had been able to support and bring great benefits to 30 businesses and it was considered very important to ensure that this success was built on and further developed in the new space.

Enterprise Activities within Northumbria

Northumbria University's Enterprise Campus is one of the fastest growing enterprise facilities and provides assistance to students and graduates from premises in Newcastle city centre, Gateshead and North Shields.
Northumbria has been involved in an SDF (Sustainable Development Fund) Project with the University of Central Lancashire, University of Salford and Manchester Metropolitan University on Urban Regeneration.

Northumbria's enterprise activities feed into other local activity within the North East including at the Bed Shed, an enterprise space in Gateshead.

Northumbria offers accredited study modules and programmes to help support a better understanding of small business enterprise. A variety of modules are available, some undergraduate enterprise modules are 'generic' - intended to be studied by students from any disciplinary background; for instance a two-semester 20 credit 'Graduate Enterprise' module, whilst others are more targeted towards particular backgrounds and study areas and are discipline specific. Enterprise is also taught as complete programmes at postgraduate level. These are targeted at students from particular discipline backgrounds.

Individual modules are available to all full and part-time students, researchers and associates registered at Northumbria University.

Northumbria's Designers in Residence programme is a 'hothouse scheme created to nurture the brightest and best in new design talent'. It works almost as an apprenticeship, with access to workshop spaces, materials, equipment on-site mentoring and two years to hone business and design skills. This aims to support the smooth transition from student to successful entrepreneur. The Designer in Residence initiative has been replicated in Arts with an artist in residence. There is also suggestion that this model could be rolled out in other areas of the University, including in the area of the Built & Natural Environment.

Enterprise Competition

Every year Enterprise Campus runs a business plan competition called Business Challenge which can be entered by any student, group of students or recent graduate of Northumbria University - including those currently running their own business. There is a £1000 prize for the overall winner. There are prizes in a number of different categories - for example International Trading, Design and Creative, Retail and Services, Community Enterprise and e-business and ICT, plus a Business Viability award for the overall winner.

The plans selected as winner and highly commended in the Business Viability category then have the opportunity to represent Northumbria University at the North East Universities Business Planning Competition, which is held in October every year.The Blueprint Competition has been running since 2004 and the winners of business planning competitions at the Universities of Durham, Newcastle, Northumbria, Sunderland and Teesside all go forward, competing against each other for prizes of significant cash value.

Entrants to both the local and regional competitions receive expert business advice to help them turn their business ideas into well researched, practical business plans.

What is it?

The Hatchery is an incubation space available virtually and on-campus. It provides a maximum of 8 office spaces offered on lease for up to one year, completely free and exclusively to Northumbria students and graduates (who have graduated in the previous 5 years).

What happens in the space?

The new accommodation is part of a building that was built in 1980s. The new accommodation is of a much better quality than the previous Hatchery premises and whilst not being absolutely perfect for the requirements of a business start-up space, it works very well.

The main part of the space consists of a large room divided up by temporary dividing boards. These temporary structures mean that confidentially can be an issue; however there is a separate meeting room that offers a higher level of privacy. Businesses within the space are provided with a desk, filing cabinet, display space, computer and telephone (with free ICT and telephone access).

Additional facilities to support developing businesses are also provided, including enterprise mentoring activities in which all businesses within the Hatchery are expected to participate. These mentoring activities include services such as:

• assistance with compiling a business plan
• access to meeting and administration areas
• access and advice on grants and financial assistance
• specialist advice in areas such as PR, marketing, finance & law

The University, with the support of HEIF funding, buys in time with experts from a variety of backgrounds to provide tailored one-to-one mentoring support.



Northumbria linked activity

Self-employment/empowerment awareness is seen as vital especially in the current economic climate. A creative way of encouraging students to explore their own entrepreneurial capabilities that Northumbria supports is the enabling of students to spend their placement year within the Hatchery as self-employed rather than in industry. There were 5 students opting to take up this opportunity in the Academic Year 2009-2010. A member of the Student & Graduate Enterprise Team acts as industrial supervisor in these instances. In 2009 there were 46 student/graduate start ups, an increase on 2008's 39.

Peer networking

Some clients also use each other's services so there is some cross-fertilisation of enterprise across the Hatchery.
Clients can talk to each other and support each other. The space allows for a routine of working and interaction with colleagues.




Funding Sources

Staff members Roger and Graham have mainly been funded by Higher Education Innovation Funding (HEIF) and Single Programme funding. Local authorities have also supported additional outgoings on off-campus accommodation.

2003 - 2006 Regional Development Agency - New Ventures SPS funding in collaboration with Newcastle and Sunderland.

Followed on from October 2006 - March 2009 by Regional Development Agency Single Programme funding enabling the growing and development of facilities.

Cost of project

Annual costs for the full Student & Graduate Enterprise service are in the region of £160k.




What technology is being used and how is it being used?

The space is wireless enabled with PCs and telephones provided for client businesses.

How does the technology add value?

Communication and networking, enabling businesses to become more widely known. Allows prospective tenants to take 'virtual' residency.


Success Factors


What makes the space successful?

The Hatchery is situated within a very good location in the centre of Newcastle upon Tyne, with an NE1 postcode.

At the time of the launch of the new space Graham Baty said: "We are delighted to now have a permanent, dedicated location on campus. The facilities are so much better than the old Hatchery as we now have improved security and extra facilities such as a dedicated meeting room and kitchen."

The space allows current students the opportunity to sample self-employment during the placement periods of their studies.

Clients are encouraged to 'own' and personalise their space.

Dedicated postal address and telephone numbers are available to client businesses.

Clients benefit from one-to-one bespoke mentoring and are provided with free workshops on a range of subjects including finance and law.

Natural progression - from the Hatchery and into the local region. Hopefully, after being based in the Hatchery businesses are offered the opportunity to take up office space within local authority business centres. The Hatchery and related activity is an excellent way of getting tenants to locate in the local area.

The financial value of the two years' free accommodation plus mentoring that is available via Enterprise Campus has been estimated at around £10,000 to each client business.

With regard to current students wanting to be involved in Hatchery activity it is reinforced to all of them that studies must come first, that they need to concentrate on their degrees and that Enterprise Campus will not continue to support them unless they graduate. The facilities are only available to Northumbria students and graduates.
Research, Business & Innovation (Business) acts as the 'landlord' for 'Hatchery' tenant businesses and ensures appropriate conditions of work. Businesses wishing to use Hatchery space must be able to clearly demonstrate, that:
• The product or service is realistic
• They have considered their customers and markets
• They have considered practicalities of their business idea
• They have personal commitment

Hatchery space is available in six-month periods. Once they are based in the Hatchery businesses are expected to show milestones of progress against a completed business plan, and, indeed continuation of the tenancy depends on evidence of progress made towards the realisation of the business through the business plan. It is anticipated that length of tenancy will generally have a maximum duration of one year.

Pre-start/early start businesses are looked after within the Hatchery and can then mature and move on to local authority accommodation where available and felt to be beneficial.

The businesses that have benefitted from the enterprise culture at Northumbria are wide and diverse in their main types of activity, including boutique, e-Learning Consultancy Company and Designers of Contemporary Furniture.


Promoting the work of the Hatchery

Communicating the work of the Hatchery is done in a variety of ways including:
• Features in the University prospectus
• Careers Service referrals
• Global emails to students
• Enterprise & Employability modules
• Posters and other promotional materials
• Web pages
• Word of mouth (this has proven to work particularly well)

Northumbria's Alumni Office is also involved in the process of encouraging graduates to participate in the programme. The Graduate Strategy is embedded into Northumbria's Corporate Strategy - 'the skills of its students, graduates and staff and its facilities - make a positive contribution to their economic and social wellbeing' Northumbria Corporate Strategy and Key Performance Indicators work alongside that.


What principles were behind the design?

The space is a refurbished part of an established building on Northumbria's City Campus. The design of the interior of the space is based upon temporary structures enabling easy and quick reconfiguration of work spaces.
What is innovative about the design? And use of the building?

The space, whilst not as innovative as other award-winning buildings within Northumbria's estate' provides an environment that allows its users to engage in networking and collaborative enterprise activity to develop their business ideas in keeping with the University's Enterprise Campus culture.


Lessons Learned


What changes have you made as a result of receiving feedback?

In order to ensure that the best possible service was offered to client businesses Graham and Roger have maintained a keen interest in what client businesses have done after their year at the Hatchery and have looked at what local authorities have been able to offer with regard to the continuation of some of the activity.

For instance North Tyneside Council supported Saville Exchange Business Centre which offers business support and also Gateshead Council's pilot for business support.

This knowledge has fed into improvements and developments within the Hatchery itself.

What could have been improved? What lessons have been learned?

Graham admits that there is always scope for expansion, but feels that the space and associated support provision works well.


Contact Details


Graham Baty, Enterprise Support Manager graham.baty@northumbria.ac.uk


Roger Candy, Business Partnerships Manager roger.candy@northumbria.ac.uk


Case study written February 2010.