St Martins launches fund to unearth 'next Facebook'

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The Independent Online

Central Saint Martins (CSM) has teamed up with US design consultancy Method to bring the brightest ideas from its students to market and potentially find "the next Facebook, Google or Apple" in the UK.

Method Design Lab was established today to create and develop products, services and companies from sources including the design college's body of more than 4,500 students. The venture is raising £20m from private investors to bring what it hopes will be up to 20 projects to market every year.

Jane Rapley, head of CSM, said that through the partnership the college "will not only uncover many ideas that may never have seen the light of day but will be able to develop, improve and commercialise them in a way not possible before". She added: "There is no reason why the UK should not produce the next Facebook, Google or Apple."

The joint venture will be run by Santiago Matheus, who said that bringing together the "creativity and horsepower" of CSM with private capital and expertise would introduce "some breakthrough concepts to the market over the next 12 months".

The move was backed by Lastminute.com co-founder Brent Hoberman. He said: "There needs to be options like this for graduates as there are fewer jobs about in the current market. The private sector has an important part to play."

Mr Hoberman said that university is "the most creative time. It is when people have a certain velocity. There needs to be an outlet to transfer those ideas into viable businesses."

The UK is developing as a market for innovation, he said: "We are well placed to be a hub for European innovation." He called on more incentives from the Government in this month's Budget. "We need to encourage an ecosystem of entrepreneurs," Mr Hoberman said.

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