SYNAPSE is a programme of workshops and business development support for students to explore entrepreneurial tools, think about their wider future.

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We work with students to realise their potential. Our workshops and mentoring programmes enable participants to apply ‘entrepreneurial thinking’ to their degree courses and develop plans that will help them realise their potential.

Over 5,500 Goldsmiths students have engaged with the programme, from departments including Anthropology, Computing, Design, Education, English, English Language Centre, History, Media, Communications & Cultural Studies, Music, Sociology, Theatre & Performance, and Visual Cultures.

The Synapse programme has also been delivered globally - in Uganda, Kenya, Egypt, Turkey, Greece, Italy, Spain, Belgium, Denmark, Norway, Sweden, Finland, Poland, Germany, Russia, China, Hong Kong and Chile.

Our Synapse workshops can be tailor-made to suit students’ needs and ambitions. Course conveners should contact the Synapse team to arrange a time to discuss creating a bespoke programme.

We work with departments across Goldsmiths to run workshops for students to apply ‘entrepreneurial thinking’ to their degree courses, and work strategically to achieve their graduate ambitions. Activities include:

  • mapping skills, strengths and values
  • getting to know the industries within their field of interest
  • plotting a course to entering employment or further study
  • creating networks, portfolios and social media presence
  • considering setting up their own business enterprises.

Synapse works on undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Final year undergraduates attending all of the Synapse programme within MCCS and Anthropology can also receive recognition on their Higher Education Achievement Record.

Synapse workshops include:

Industry mapping

A creative exploration of the complexity and the connectivity of how your industry works. This session helps individuals and groups to better understand the breadth of activities and operations within their sector. It helps you begin to focus your interests and help identify the skills that you will need to develop over the rest of your study at Goldsmiths.

From ambition to action

This workshop helps students to unpick their skills, talents and knowledge and to reflect on their learning and development over their course of studies so far. You will identify your short-term and long-term ambitions for your future, and begin to develop an action plan to get there.

Your work beyond Goldsmiths

A workshop that helps students understand their creative practice and process and how they can continue to sustain momentum in continuing to make work. The session also explores where their work is best placed to be seen and who can support their development outside of Goldsmiths.

Supported and delivered by Goldsmiths’ Institute for Creative & Cultural Entrepreneurship, Synapse is designed to support and complement existing careers and employability activities that departments might offer.

Synapse has been received with enthusiasm and acclaim from students and staff alike.

  • ‘It is easy to feel isolated, especially when working as an independent solo artist, it was psychologically helpful to have a forum to share fears, ask questions and identify weak spots with the support of someone with [the tutor’s] particular experience.’ 
  • ‘There should be much more of this throughout the year so that we can build a body of knowledge and start using it now.
  • ‘Very energising and helpful and thoroughly sensitive to the group.’
  • ‘Workshop leader was full of great energy that makes it easy to ask questions and start discussions.’
  • ‘Very important that this workshop took place. It should be done more regularly.’
  • ‘… it turned out to be invaluable in working out how to make a mammoth task achievable.’

Synapse also offers short one-to-one mentoring sessions for Goldsmiths students to discuss the potential of an entrepreneurial idea or ambition.

These sessions:

  • explore the potential of early concept ideas for a business or project
  • help students to research and develop the idea further, and to look at existing models already working in their sector
  • explore how they might pursue a working business model.

Almost 200 students have taken the opportunity to engage with these advice sessions in the last two years, with more requesting surgery sessions every week.

The sessions run throughout the Autumn and Spring terms, with follow-up meetings in the Summer term.

Business Development Schemes

Through Synapse, Goldsmiths also offers a range of opportunities that support students and graduates to create and develop their own businesses.

We currently offer:

  • Student Entrepreneurship Scheme
  • Graduate Entrepreneurs in Residence
  • ‘Start Up Visa’ Graduate Entrepreneur in Residence

In 2013 Goldsmiths joined a group of UK universities in endorsing the Tier 1 (since renamed Start Up Visa) Graduate Entrepreneur scheme. The Start Up Visa category is for non EU, EEA or Swiss nationals wishing to set up a business in the UK. Each year we work with the Goldsmiths Immigration Service to offer the Start Up Visa for Graduate Enterprises.

The scheme, provided by the UK Border Authority, allows Goldsmiths to offer up to 15 places each year. The Start Up Visa can allow the successful applicant up to two years to work in the UK to develop their business, with the potential to remain in the UK should they develop a successful enterprise.

ICCE provides business skills training for potential applicants, and any final year students prior to the scheme’s closing date. We currently have 23 Start Up Visa Graduate Entrepreneurs with whom we work, providing business mentoring and creative advice.

Graduate Entrepreneurs are provided with monthly incubation support, continual access to advice from ICCE staff, e-support and quarterly review meetings and progress reviews with their mentor. They also receive three peer-to-peer Action Learning sessions per year.

Over 90 businesses have progressed through the Start Up Visa scheme between 2013 and 2020. Of the 90 businesses that have been supported with advice, over 92% continue to trade.

Visa applications are made available at two points in the academic year Spring Term and Summer Term. Successful applicants must be a student or alumni of Goldsmiths and must have successfully passed their degree before final completion of the endorsement process can begin.

In response to discovering interesting potential new businesses through delivering Synapse sessions across Goldsmiths, we have developed the Graduate Entrepreneur in Residence scheme. This support scheme is available to graduates of Goldsmiths who are UK and EU nationals.

This is a support, advice and mentoring service, working on a one-to-one basis with creative enterprises.

We provide business and creative input to graduates and graduate enterprises, from a range of Goldsmiths departments, who are working to develop their own businesses. We provide access to a shared office space with computers, phones, meeting rooms, printing and Wifi access.

We are currently working with 12 new enterprises, including:

  • Record label, artists and producers
  • Theatre and performance companies
  • Fine artist
  • Live and performance artists
  • App developers
  • Ethical fashion designer makers
  • Creative industry consultants
  • Ethical community café and business hub for migrant, black and mixed ethnicity women

Many of our supported businesses have won a range of awards and funding including Arts Council England, DBACE Creative Enterprise awards; Goldsmiths Innovation Awards, Santander Universities Business awards. one a commission by Soundur tand two of our tech enterprises are in negotiation for major investment.

Application to the Graduate Entrepreneur in Residence Scheme is open throughout the academic year. 

In Autumn 2016, we launched the Goldsmiths ICCE Student Entrepreneur scheme. We work with up to three student companies per year, each formed during study at Goldsmiths. The initiative supports and nurtures their ambitions and offers guidance and business development support.

The aim is not only to support new enterprise initiative, but also to study the progress of student companies to understand more clearly if business mentorship and creative guidance will help nurture a more resilient and successful professional enterprise on graduation.

Since we started the programme, seven of the student enterprises we have supported have successfully joined our Graduate Entrepreneur in Residence scheme and have successful trading businesses.

Joining the scheme is by invitation only, but if you are a current student at Goldsmiths who is making your own work or if you are part of a company then you can arrange a time to talk with us.

For more information on SYNAPSE please email Adrian De La Court or Ashely Evenson.