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Durham University announces new £500,000 Hazan Venture Lab, developing entrepreneurs to help solve key problems for business and society

Durham University

Durham University (@durham_uni) has today announced the opening of a brand-new state-of-the-art facility, designed to nurture the talents and capabilities of aspiring student entrepreneurs.

Opening this autumn, the Hazan Venture Lab is the University’s first purpose-built space for entrepreneurship. Created through a collaboration between the University’s Careers & Enterprise Team and its entrepreneurial alumni, the Lab will become a specialised home from which students can embark on innovative enterprise projects to tackle the most significant problems faced by society and industry.

Students will be able to access specialist advice and mentoring sessions, much of which will be supplied by the University’s global alumni network. Students will also have the opportunity to develop their skills through workshops, networking opportunities, and participate in start-up pitching events. 

The new space has been made possible through a £500,000 donation made by Durham University alumnus Jonathan Hazan.

After graduating in 1991 with a degree in Computing, Jonathan joined healthcare start-up Datix, growing the venture into an internationally successful company which today is used widely by the NHS. As Chief Executive, Jonathan led Datix through two highly successful management buyouts before stepping down to pursue his wider interests in patient safety and entrepreneurship.

Speaking about the development of the Lab, Jonathan Hazan said;

“My years at Durham gave me a solid foundation on which to build my career, and I’m delighted that I’m now able to give something back to the university. I’m hoping my donation will help to equip students with the skills they need to start and grow their own businesses.”

Housed within a brand-new Mathematical Sciences and Computer Science Building, the Hazan Venture Lab will provide students with flexible access to custom-built start-up facilities including individual and group working areas, meeting rooms, and a mini-library to give students the space and resources they need to collaborate and grow their start-ups.

Speaking on the Lab’s launch, Marek Tokarski, Senior Enterprise Manager at Durham University said;

“The Hazan Venture Lab underlines the University’s commitment to providing the best possible support for our aspiring entrepreneurs. It will enable a community of innovative minds working together on campus to create exciting new projects and ventures. Thanks to Jonathan’s generosity, we can build on the success of recent years to support even more students and graduates to fulfil their entrepreneurial ambitions.”

The Lab will also be a vital resource in the delivery of new start-up creation programmes. From September 2021, the Hazan Venture Lab will be the home of Durham Venture School, a new talent-led pre-accelerator programme through which graduates will work directly with exceptional alumni mentors to explore the key challenges facing industry and society and, together, create high-potential start-ups to tackle them.

Open to recent Durham University graduates, the programme will be the first of its kind in the Higher Education sector. Over the course of 24 weeks, participants will work together in teams to develop new business concepts, build prototypes and business models, and have the opportunity to secure substantial pre-seed investment. Participants will also be provided with support from business coaches and given access to a network of investors and like-minded entrepreneurs from Durham’s impressive start-up community.

Luke Young, Durham University graduate and co-founder of Agrisea, an ocean agriculture company focused on ending world hunger through sustainable food development, believes that the University provides the perfect open-minded environment to empower early innovators to build sector-defining companies.

Luke said;

“I’ve had first-hand experience of the dedication of the Venture Lab team to support students towards solving the world’s greatest problems. The Venture Lab supported Agrisea in our earliest days as we set out to solve world hunger, now we are a multi-million-dollar company at the frontier of science with a network that spans the globe.”

Those interested in applying to the Durham Venture School programme are invited to join a virtual launch event, taking place on Wednesday 17th March, to find out more. Tickets can be booked through the University’s website.

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