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Top for graduate start-up employment in the North East

24th July 2023

Northumbria University, Newcastle, has been ranked in the UK top 10 for graduate start-up businesses based on estimated turnover.

The University is also the highest placed in the North East for jobs created by graduate start-ups.

According to the latest Higher Education Business and Communities Interaction (HEBCIS) survey 2021/22, the University was ranked sixth nationally for graduate start-ups, with estimated turnover during the period exceeding £102.5 million. The survey also revealed there were 1,172 jobs created by these enterprises, the highest number of any North East University.

Northumbria has now been in the top 10 of UK higher education institutions for graduate start-ups based on estimated turnover in each of the last 14 years – holding the top spot in five of those years.

With a strong track-record of supporting graduate enterprise, this latest HEBCIS report underpins Northumbria’s growing reputation for entrepreneurial success. Services such as Student and Graduate Enterprise provide a range of support including entrepreneurial skills training, incubation/co-working space, workshops, mentoring, and specialist advice in areas such as IP/Legal, marketing, Sales, Business Growth and Finance.

Professor Graham Wynn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Education at Northumbria, said: “These fantastic results showcase the enterprise talent, innovation and drive of Northumbria students and graduate entrepreneurs. They also highlight Northumbria’s focus on entrepreneurial learning and teaching and support for student start-up businesses. Our graduates are building successful businesses, creating high value jobs and contributing significantly to the regional economy.”

Since 2003 Northumbria has supported the creation of almost 500 graduate businesses. Many of these businesses are based in the North East and are trading nationally and internationally.

Graham Baty, Head of Enterprise Development at Northumbria, said: “We provide a range of services, including mentoring from industry experts to get start-ups to the point of trading - and we continue to support these businesses in the early years of trading. It is not just about the number of new start-ups, but also the consistency of University support to give student graduate start-ups the chance to prosper and grow over the long term. To feature in the top 10 for so many years, and to have regularly held the number one spot, is something we are extremely proud of.

Case study – Marketing Management Graduate Annabelle Hill and her start-up business Sea the Love.

Inspired by her seaside hometown Whitely Bay, Northumbria University graduate entrepreneur Annabelle Hill has transformed a student assignment into a growing start-up business. With the help of Northumbria’s Student and Graduate Enterprise team, Annabelle launched Sea The Love earlier this year, offering a range of marine-based skincare products, utilising sea extracts to improve the skin and boost self-confidence.

Having struggled with problematic skin as a teenager, Annabelle was no stranger to skincare products but was disappointed to find they were often made with harsh chemicals and were damaging to the environment. While still studying for her A levels, she noticed how healthy her skin looked after spending time in the sea and began hatching a plan for a skincare range, formulated with natural and clean ingredients. After completing her degree, she reconsidered this sixth-form project and, supported by industry professionals at Northumbria, developed and launched Sea The Love.

Annabelle uses sustainable and ethically sourced ingredients including organic marine minerals and magnesium from the ocean. Each product in the range is infused with marine plants such as seaweed and kelp, as well as clinical actives such as hyaluronic acid and niacinamide.

Importantly, these natural ingredients are known to have benefits for the skin, without the use of sulphates, parabens or silicones – which are unnatural products, often found in skincare products.

“Sea The Love was initially a set of products to help people like myself, who seek to improve their complexion and generally take better care of their skin. But it has grown so much since that first assignment”, Annabelle said.

“It’s hard to ignore the influence social media has on self-image. It was important to me that this was at the forefront of my brand, as improving your skin is only half of the solution. You have to love your natural self and be comfortable with your own reflection. Hence, Sea The Love.”

The company mission is to save your skin, the sea and your sanity. It has committed to making a charitable donation with every purchase, supporting The Marine Conservation Society. And, recognising the amount of plastic waste which ends up in our oceans each year, the packaging has been designed to be recyclable and environmentally friendly, using glass jars for all the products.

Annabelle, who graduated in 2021, was recommended by a fellow graduate to speak with the University regarding support when launching her business.

“I really hit the ground running once I returned to university to get help with my business,” she said. “I was surrounded by fantastic entrepreneurs, who were starting to make a name for themselves and that gave me the hunger to get the job done. The support I have received so far from the enterprise team at Northumbria has been incredible.”

Lee Longstaff, Enterprise Advisor at Northumbria University said: “Annabelle is a regular user of our Incubator hub, where she has benefitted from a combination of 1-2-1 mentoring, workshops and peer-to-peer support. It’s great to see Annabelle’s business idea become a reality. We love the ‘Sea the Love’ brand and we hope many more people do too”.

More information on student and graduate enterprises can be found at www.northumbria.ac.uk/sge

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