Coworking company launches new space to support student entrepreneurship

Huckletree, a leading UK workspace provider, will open a new innovation lab for university students next month.

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Helena Young

With A-Level results day taking place this Thursday, a leading provider of London coworking space has announced the launch of a specialist innovation hub for university students to support “future disruptor businesses”.

The new, 2,000 sq ft. Huckletree Innovation Lab at Regent’s University London will open this September to all Regent’s students. Alongside a fully equipped workspace, students will get access to a curated list of events and workshops, and a network of business mentors.

Research has shown that the UK is currently undergoing a boom in the number of student entrepreneurs, with 400% more students starting a business in 2022 than in 2021.

Huckletree hub will “democratise” business opportunities

Going to university is commonly positioned as the inverse of starting a business career. It’s sometimes argued to be a way for young people to prolong entering the ‘real world’ of the UK workforce.

But, as thousands of sixth form students opened their university results yesterday, the new Huckletree Innovation Hub is a reminder of the role that higher education can play in supporting entrepreneurial journeys.

As proof, three businesses that featured on 2023’s Startups 100 Index were launched by entrepreneurs via innovation hubs or similar accelerators owned by their respective universities.

These include Pretty Mama, which was also nominated for our Young Entrepreneur award. Co-founder Jenny McFadden realised her dream of modest, attractive clothing for breastfeeding while in her final year of a Business and Law degree at Northumbria University.

McFadden credits the university’s mentorship with helping Pretty Mama to go from idea to product. Last year, the company secured £30,000 investment on the BBC’s reality TV business show, Dragon’s Den.

Commenting on the announcement of its first ever university hub, Gabriela Hersham, CEO and co-founder of Huckletree, describes its unveiling as a step “towards democratising education and opportunities for aspiring business owners.”

Coworking a natural choice for next generation of entrepreneurs

Shifting work norms – such as the popularisation of flexible working arrangements – mean that more young students are starting a side job.

Their reasoning is sound. Side hustlers can earn over the annual living wage – without having to quit their full-time job or education. But, while young people have no trouble setting up a business, the transition from kitchen table to fully-formed workplace is a much bigger leap.

Coworking spaces, like the Huckletree Innovation Hub, act as the bridge between these two growth stages for student business owners.

Unlike renting or leasing traditional office space, upfront coworking costs are much smaller, so founders don’t need large cash reserves to get started. Sole traders can hire a hot desk from as low as £99 per month. SMEs can hire a private office from just £400 per month.

Coworking members also share the space with fellow business owners to help them build and develop key networking skills, while most providers offer add-on services like a virtual business number, mail and call handling, and sometimes even bespoke amenities like an in-house gym or cinema room.

Plus, many of the top coworking providers also offer access to incubators and accelerators to support growth.

Huckletree plans to implement an accelerator programme, designed specifically for pre-seed businesses with founders from under-represented backgrounds, who lack the safety net of friends or family funding.

“Our mission is to support and accelerate the growth of ambitious, innovative startups,” adds Hersham. “We believe that by providing students with access to our expertise and resources, we can help them realise their potential and make a real impact in the world.”

Think you could be the next Elon Musk? Learn about over 100 cheap small business ideas to start at university.

Written by:
Helena Young
Helena is Lead Writer at Startups. As resident people and premises expert, she's an authority on topics such as business energy, office and coworking spaces, and project management software. With a background in PR and marketing, Helena also manages the Startups 100 Index and is passionate about giving early-stage startups a platform to boost their brands. From interviewing Wetherspoon's boss Tim Martin to spotting data-led working from home trends, her insight has been featured by major trade publications including the ICAEW, and news outlets like the BBC, ITV News, Daily Express, and HuffPost UK.

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