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The University has identified an opportunity to better support the growing regional digital and creative sector, in which business leaders are innovators, embrace and improve new technologies and constantly develop new business models. There is clear demand for new types of work spaces where businesses, freelancers, start-ups and students benefit from peer-to-peer learning, working together, sharing ideas, collaborating and sparking innovation to develop new products to bring to market. This project will enable us to increase the level and impact of the interaction between the digital creative community and the University through the following key strands of work:

Space to Grow

Breaking business barriers is an innovative 3-month programme that immerses participants in the user requirements of the digital creative industry and involves experts, designers, and practitioners working alongside researchers, mentors and coaches to co-design and propel their business and product ideas. The knowledge and skills gained from the Space to Grow will equip Essex entrepreneurs with the tools to fund, grow or scale their businesses, to be more productive and to make better use of their skills and expertise. The programme will be based around various topics such as leadership, marketing & sales, artificial intelligence & virtual reality and it will consist of guest lectures, presentations, workshops, 1:2:1 sessions etc. We have engaged with leading virtual reality and AI practitioners to aid the delivery of this programme. Space to Grow will be run between 6th March and 26th June 2020.

 Angels@essex

 Angels@essex is aimed at facilitating the connection between angel investors and entrepreneurs, providing a confined, secure and safe environment for entrepreneurs in AI, VR and creative digital sectors to access angel investors with similar interests. This not-for-profit, legally compliant platform will provide seed and growth funding to meet the economic gap in local provision identified in Essex. Through opening up access to flexible sources of investment, tailored to the digital creative sector, our goal is to accelerate the pace at which business ideas can be brought to market and to expand the numbers of new products and services being developed successfully from the Knowledge Gateway.

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