University of Stirling’s enterprise mission celebrated as Shadow Education Secretary visits campus

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Three people standing in front of business entrance
Left to right: Sara McDermid, Director of Research and Innovation Services, University of Stirling; Triana Throp, Founder, Selki Store; Liam Kerr MSP

Scottish Conservative Shadow Education Secretary Liam Kerr MSP joined innovators, students and graduates to celebrate the University of Stirling’s Enterprise Day yesterday [Tuesday 14 November].

Held during Global Entrepreneurship Week, the University’s Enterprise Day spotlights support for promising entrepreneurs, including a focus on success stories from university-incubated start-ups, and practical advice for students and graduates to turn their novel ideas or innovations into commercial products and services. 

Highlights include the annual Global Entrepreneurship Fair, and a public discussion panel featuring some of Scotland’s inspiring entrepreneurs.

An anchor for regional growth and sustainable entrepreneurship, the University of Stirling runs an Enterprise Programme enabling students, staff, recent graduates and eligible members of the local community to explore their entrepreneurial potential, drive innovation, develop commercial solutions, and make a positive difference through business creation. 

Sara McDermid, Director of Innovation and Enterprise at the University of Stirling, said: “The University of Stirling’s mission is to provide education with a purpose, and that mantra sits at the heart of our support for entrepreneurship. We are passionate about providing the next generation of business leaders with the skills and expertise to thrive in a fast-paced and changing economy. 

“The comprehensive support provided through the University’s Enterprise Programme means that whether individuals are taking the first steps on their entrepreneurial journey, or looking to build on a promising start, there will be a warm welcome in our vibrant founder community.”

During his visit, Mr Kerr had the opportunity to meet two small businesses founded by University of Stirling students and graduates, including Selki Store, a Falkirk-based health and wellbeing business. Founded by chronic pain advocate Triana Throp, shortly after she graduated with an MSc Sustainable Aquaculture in 2021, Selki Store provides a range of sustainable, high-quality wearable heat packs designed to empower those managing chronic pain. Triana is based in the University’s business incubator ‘The Hive’ and her business has steadily grown, with it recognised as Consumer Services Start-Up of the Year at the Scotland Start-Up Awards 2023.

Triana Throp, Founder of Selki Store, said: "As an incubated alumni founder in The Hive, I have benefitted from access to funded one-to-one legal, marketing, and accountancy guidance, monthly training and ecosystem events and ongoing guidance from the Enterprise Team's Business Advisor. 

“This comprehensive support has been immensely helpful in navigating challenges and the Scottish business landscape over this past year. In spring 2023, my business was awarded £8575 of equity-free SEED funding from Santander Universities UK through the Enterprise Programme's annual start-up competitions, enabling us to grow and achieve milestones faster."

Liam Kerr MSP also heard how world-leading researchers, based at the University of Stirling Management School, are working closely with policymakers to shape policy at all levels of government. This includes the recent Scottish Government's Entrepreneurial Campus Blueprint, authored by University of Stirling entrepreneurs in residence Professors Joe Little and Ross Tuffee, which was unveiled by First Minister Humza Yousaf in June 2023.

Liam Kerr, Scottish Conservative Shadow Cabinet Secretary for Education and Skills, said: “I was delighted to learn of the great things happening through the University of Stirling and particularly to meet some of the University’s entrepreneurs to see them turn innovation and ideas into reality and businesses.

“Everyone understands the benefits of education, but to see it matched with other elements like entrepreneurship and working with a purpose was genuinely inspiring.

“Small businesses are the heartbeat of Scotland’s economy, but they need to be supported and encouraged, especially those just starting out with their ventures.

“It’s been such a tough climate for education and innovation over the past few years, but anyone seeing the work being done by the University of Stirling, its Management School, its Enterprise Programme and the entrepreneurs, businesses, start-ups, and innovators they support, cannot but feel really positive about the future.”