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Award for helping businesses to succeed

09 December 2013


The efforts of a Teesside University employee who has helped hundreds of fledgling businesses to succeed have been recognised with a prestigious award.

The efforts of a Teesside University employee who has helped hundreds of fledgling businesses to succeed have been recognised with a prestigious award.

Eileen Wicks, Graduate Enterprise Manager, is to receive an award for Outstanding Contribution to Business Incubation from UK Business Incubation (UKBI).

UKBI is the membership association of organisations and professionals actively involved in enterprise, innovation and sustainable economic growth.

The award recognises Eileen’s work managing Teesside University’s business incubators at its Middlesbrough and Darlington campuses.

Eileen joined the University 15 years ago and for the past nine years has been involved in graduate enterprise.

Over that time she has helped to oversee the transformation of Teesside University’s business incubation service from just offering accommodation and equipment to a holistic support network with industry-specific mentoring and advice.

Her efforts have paid dividends and the University’s business incubator has helped to create 268 new businesses and 451 jobs. The survival rates of businesses supported by the University are also in the top five nationally.

The University is currently supporting nearly 70 new businesses, including:

• 32 in its residential incubator in the Victoria Building in Middlesbrough • 19 ‘virtually’ incubated businesses • 7 businesses hot-desking at the Darlington campus • 9 businesses at ‘follow-on’ accommodation at the Phoenix Building in Middlesbrough. Before joining the University, Eileen worked in a number of different industries including financial services, local government and also for a large international manufacturer.

She said: 'I’m immensely proud to receive this award as it is fantastic for my work to be recognised by my peers within the incubation services network.

'It reflects all the hard work that’s done here by our staff and also the incubated businesses themselves who are tremendously dedicated with some brilliant business ideas.

'There have been some real success stories over the years and watching our incubated businesses succeed and grow gives me a great sense of satisfaction.

'I’ve definitely benefitted from the support of and guidance of UKBI and their incubation framework has been invaluable.'

Successful businesses incubated at Teesside University include animation company Bloom Studio, visualisation studio Animmersion and – an online platform for digitalised comic publications.

Eileen added: 'We really wanted to give the businesses incubated here added-value and realised they wanted proper support, so we were able to introduce things like mentoring and coaching for the companies based here.

'We wanted to focus on the long-term sustainability of the businesses and it has been immensely successful.

'We’re exploring new ways to add value and one of the things we’re doing now is looking at tailoring our services to make sure they suit all the different kinds of companies we have based here from social enterprises to high-tech companies.'

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