Business Impact Report

An overview of the recent impact delivered, through the University's incubation facilities and associated activities.

Over the year we have supported 133 businesses, of which 25 started within the year. 16 of those businesses were started by University of Derby graduates.

  • Inspired Business, Ask the Entrepreneur, Ask the Expert networking events launched
  • 107 new enquiries received
  • Over 6000 followers on social media
  • 884 people are subscribing to the Banks Mill newsletter
  • Banks Mill shortlisted for Mainframe Award
  • 90.7% of clients are either satisfied or very satisfied with the services provided

Membership of the Derby Enterprise Network

By August 2022 there were 105 members in Derby Enterprise Network (DEN) in total.

32 Innovation Hot House Members
28 Affiliate Members
28 Banks Mill Tenants
17 Incubation Members

Sharing success

We would like to share some great success stories from across the network.

The launch of the first student residency opportunity at Banks Mill

Five winners, Sofia Yala Rodrigues, Sarah Blandford, Gemma Woolley, Amy Vallance, and Charlie Collins, were provided with access to a shared studio space with free rent for a year, during which they were able to develop their creative practice and explore self-employment as a career option whilst still studying at the University of Derby.

As part of the residency the group were able to share their journey and experiences with current students, inspiring the next generation of creative entrepreneurs.

Find out more about the first student residency winners

Five winners student residency winners, Sofia Yala Rodrigues, Sarah Blandford, Gemma Woolley, Amy Vallance, and Charlie Collins (pictured left to right).
Five winners, Sofia Yala Rodrigues, Sarah Blandford, Gemma Woolley, Amy Vallance, and Charlie Collins (pictured left to right).

Vibrancy fund bid success

From winning a Banks Mill Studios residency award to being granted funding to help brighten up the streets of Derby, Amy Vallance has had a string of successes. Her most recent project has seen a street in Derby adorned with thousands of colourful canopy ribbons.

Amy, who is in the third year of a BA (Hons) Fine Art degree, handmade around 32,600 ribbons which are available to see on Iron Gate, in the city centre.

It was after securing funding from Derby City Council that her vision to “bring joy” to Derby’s streets – and further develop her creative ideas – was made a reality.

Find out more about Amy Vallance

Amy Vallance working with fabric as part of an art installation.

It was the word ‘joy’ in my application that made them pick me. The council said they had always wanted a canopy, but no one had really brought up the right idea. Then I did and they loved it.

Amy Vallance
University of Derby, BA (Hons) Fine Art, Alumni

Growing with University support

Ben Collison, Josh Spaticchia, James Heaney, and Odhran Taylor made their first short film together during the second year of their Film Production course. They didn’t know it at the time, but it would be the first of many. 

The business proved a great success and with support from the University they were encouraged to join the Innovation Hothouse a support network and co-working space for self-employed Derby students and graduates.

From there they moved to the University’s incubation unit for creative industries, Banks Mill, and more recently they have moved into the University’s Enterprise Centre on Bridge Street.

The team have seen great success working on a wide range of high profile projects for local businesses including Marketing Derby, Derby Theatre, and Cosy Direct, as well as for big names across the UK, such as Bear Grylls, Matt Willis and the Beta Squad.

Find out about Goldbox Productions success

Ben Collison talking to a colleague from Goldbox.

Our relationship with the University blossomed. We’ve met all these wonderful people - from the Marketing to Events, and senior managers too, they’ve all been incredibly supportive. We’re hoping to agree a formal strategic partnership with the University.

Ben Collison
Goldbox Production

Studio No 74 celebrate first birthday at Banks Mill

The company has grown massively over the last 12 months since moving into Banks Mill, with the couple recently giving up their permanent jobs to focus solely on growing their business, a scary but rewarding step that seems to have paid off. 

Rachel Powell and Darius Szwedo from Studio No 74.

Being surrounded by other creatives in the building is so amazing, seeing how they all get on with their businesses and their wins, it just inspires us, even more, to carry on pushing forward.

Dariusz Szwedo
Studio 74

Business Support for CAD for Fashion

Erica Horne of CAD for Fashion joined the Innovation Hothouse, a support network for University of Derby enterprising graduates.

Find out more about Erica's success

Erica Horne using an Ipad to produce some digital illustrations.

The Enterprise Centre has been a second home this last few months; with Innovation Hothouse meetings, networking events. Each time I visit I leave enthused and feeling productive!

Erica Horne
CAD for Fashion

Relocation to support business growth

Stevie Davies Glass moved her business to Wirksworth to set up a bigger studio and gallery space, providing her with a ‘shop-front’ to sell her work and support other artists.

Stevie’s rental contract at Banks Mill came to an end in early 2021 but she was allowed to continue renting a smaller studio space there for six months, while she set up a new, bigger studio and gallery space in Wirksworth — a small Derbyshire town which is famous for its arts festival.

I have lots of plans and ideas about how to utilise/develop the space and I'm having the best year with no signs of things slowing down here.

Banks Mill instantly makes you feel more professional – you get a business address and have opportunities to learn from others and make connections. It gets you out of your artist bubble... I would highly recommend it!

Stevie Davies, Artist and designer

Glass being sculpted in to a piece of art work.
Stevie Davies creating a piece of artwork in her workshop.