Highlights of NACUE’s Student Enterprise Conference #SEC2021

5 min readMar 8, 2021

Over the course of three days students, graduates and entrepreneurs from across the UK congregated for NACUE’s Student Enterprise Conference 2021. Now in its 12th year, this year’s conference was taken online for first time on Hopin, in collaboration with Aston University, De Montfort University and University of Westminster.

This year, #SEC2021 was ran over the course of three days, with over 450 registered eager attendees from four continents Europe, North America, Asia, and Africa.

More than just a series of talks…

#SEC2021 offered delegates a variety of sessions to attend. From inspirational talks to insightful panel discussions, networking to NACUE VC Investment Challenge by bringing along the next generation of changemakers to this exciting interactive activity. Students were given the opportunity to learn through a variety of different methods to reflect and define a vision for what might lie ahead and equip them with the needed entrepreneurial skills to thrive in the future.

Welcoming delegates this year was Yani Vladimirova, NACUE’s Enterprise Engagement Manager, who thanked Aston University, De Montfort University and University of Westminster for their “outstanding collaboration to the next level, to bring the Student Enterprise Conference 2021 to you all today, to the next generation of entrepreneurs, innovators and future thinkers”. Perfectly setting the tone for the conference’s theme of ‘Shaping the future together’.

After the welcoming and opening remarks, students then followed to sessions of their choosing.

The first day of the conference was hosted in collaboration with De Montfort University and their Enterprise team, with their own Vikesh Mistry, Enterprise Projects Officer, delivering a session dedicated to ’25 Tips on what YOU can do next: Uni, work & start-ups’. Vikesh shared his practical tips with students, whether their next step is to pursue: further study, start-up your own business, get a job or travel the world.

Building up on this was Kallum with a ‘K’ Russell’s session. Kallum shared the importance of equipping ourselves with “Enterprise”, “Entrepreneurship” and “Innovation” skills, whether students and graduates start and grow their own businesses or adopt UNpreneurial mindset. Towards the end of the day, Tim Barnes, Chairman of NACUE and founder of The Rain Gods, launched an exciting 36- hours NACUE VC Investment Challenge with £500 in cash prizes up for grabs!

#SEC2021 second day, hosted in collaboration with Creative Enterprise Centre at the University of Westminster, begun with University of Westminster panel discussion led by graduate entrepreneurs. They shared unvaluable advice based on 5 things they wish they knew and have learned from their start-up journey so far.

Alumni from our Tata Varsity Pitch competition, including AC BIODE, Post Carbon Lab, Spyras and Uni Sim, gathered together to share their stories and answer questions around how to seed alternative futuristic businesses. An interactive session was delivered by Kay Kukoyi, Founder and CEO of Purposeful Group. Sharing useful strategies for positive thinking, overcoming imposter syndrome, building confidence and resilience, and the importance of having the right entrepreneurial mindset. Warwick Incubator’s Locky Wright, took a holistic approach to student entrepreneurship by opening the discussion on, ‘Why being a student is the perfect time to begin a business, what some of the key skills entrepreneurs have are, and how students can get them?’ At the end of the day, David Trayford, founder of Talk-ware and speaker, talked about how ‘Innovation begins with Communication’ by sharing the process of making a good communication that helps attendees not only to communicate their business concepts but also fostering new ideas.

Our final day at #SEC2021, hosted in collaboration with BSEEN at Aston University, started with a fireside chat with Leigh Purnell, a world record breaking adventurer and founder of green tech start-up Petalite. Also, helping attendees to create businesses, products or services which truly fulfil the need of target customers, was Daniel Evans, Chief Executive Officer of BEC as well as an alumnus of Aston University. Janine Green of JG Coaching led a session on ‘Tools for Wellbeing’ and shared useful techniques and thought processes that enable delegates to understand themselves and keep their wellbeing in check, in those times of uncertainty or when just like things are a little bit out of control. The Creator Fund Principal and fashion founder Dana Khater and Alexander Birks, Founder of SujiBRF shared their experiences on ‘Taking the Leap’ into entrepreneurship. Dana also shared her transitioning journey from student founder to investor and what it’s like getting into VC.

At the end of #SEC2021, we are pleased to announce the winner and runners-up teams of the NACUE VC Investment Challenge which was running throughout the weekend. HUGE congratulations to:

Not only did #SEC2021 provide opportunities to learn but to network too, albeit virtually. With a series of online networking activities #SEC2021 provided a great opportunity for students to mingle with like-minded individuals, share and expand their business ideas but more importantly, make connections that will last.

If you missed out on #SEC2021 then be sure to sign up for our NACUE newsletter and be one of the first to find out more about #SEC2022!

If you think your business or idea is ready to pitch, start thinking of applying to the Tata Varsity Pitch competition powered by NACUE, #VP2021 and click here to stay updated.