In a world where innovation is the heart and soul of economies, new business ideas have become an essential need. Students are the main stakeholders in the race to fulfil the arising necessities of everyday life. SMU considers that it is crucial to guide the students towards achieving their dreams of creating businesses. By founding the SMU Incubator, the university seeks to encourage young ambitious students and help them take the first step in creating their own companies.
To benefit from the SMU incubator services the startups need to adhere to three conditions. The newly created companies must comply with startup needs (Judicial, Financial, Business, Technical and Logistic), capitalize on SMU’s assets, and contribute with a clear added value to the ecosystem. The incubation process requires the assistance of all SMU stakeholders such the Alumni Association and the Research Centre.
Within the first two months prior to the incubation program, entrepreneurs must send their online applications. The applications will be reviewed by the stakeholders and the participants will be selected based on SMU’s priorities.
As soon as the entrepreneurs are selected, they will have to pitch their idea in front of the SMU community followed by a Q&A session. The stakeholders will then provide recommendations that are deemed helpful for entrepreneurs. The main aim of this process is to assess the needs of the startups and provide personalized support.
Within the first month, throughout a matchmaking event, the entrepreneur will have the opportunity to work with a professional SMU alumnus alongside a dedicated professional coach from the university’s faculty.
On a weekly basis, throughout an event, entrepreneurs will get together and share startup progress. The event will also include guest speakers that will share their experiences. The incubator will offer, as well, various sessions on topics such as communication or stress management.
The incubator will hold two-day workshops for the entrepreneurs in which topics such as Branding & Positioning; Design Thinking; Business Modelling; Digital Marketing, Public Relations & Growth Hacking; Startup Valuation and Fundraising; Software Development; Intellectual Property; Machine Learning & Artificial Intelligence; User Experience / User Interface, will be discussed. They will also have the chance to work on their ideas with other entrepreneurs and SMU faculty members.
Once a month, SMU stakeholders and faculty, alongside entrepreneurs, will launch an event to help promote the company and build its community. The event will also be an opportunity for networking and finding potential future stakeholders.
By the end of the second month, an evaluation of the progress will be conducted through an event. Throughout the event the entrepreneurs will give a 3-minute pitch of their ideas to an independent jury. The startups might have the opportunity to access a small fund, through a local crowdfunding system, to create prototypes.
By the end of the program, which will last 3 to 4 months, the incubator will celebrate the progress of the startups throughout a special event. During this event, entrepreneurs will conduct a 3-minute pitch of their company. The main goal of this event is to increase the visibility of the company and generate leads while easing the fundraising process.