Member News & Events

Gateway to partnership success

WORKING TOGETHER: AFC Bournemouth Commercial Director Rob Mitchell, left, with Bournemouth University Chief Operating Officer Jim Andrews at the AFC Business breakfast networking event held at Bournemouth University

Bournemouth University’s stunning new £27 million Poole Gateway Building has been shown off to the region’s business community.

The brand new state-of-the-art facility played host to the latest breakfast networking meeting staged by AFC Business, the commercial arm of Premier League football club AFC Bournemouth.

Poole Gateway Building houses two multi-camera TV studios, a film studio, recording studios, green screen facilities, music labs, a cinema and leading edge technological equipment.

Guests were treated to a tour of the 5,000 sq ft facility, which opened last month, by Project Manager Rob Lipcar, who explained that as well as professional-level facilities the building was constructed to exacting sustainability standards, with 70 per cent of the cost spent locally.

University Chief Operating Officer Jim Andrews and AFC Bournemouth Commercial Director Rob Mitchell, an alumnus of the university, took part in a Q&A session as they explained the partnership working between the two organisations.

The association began back in 2008 when students began to volunteer at the then cash-strapped League 2 club, with the partnership being made official in 2012 and now involves a close relationship.

Rob said: “We are able to give real life work experience to a great many students, who join our physiotherapy, sports science, analysis and coaching teams across all our squads and have access to expertise and facilities.

“It really does work for both sides. There is a huge range of work going on. As a Premier League football club we have a responsibility, as well as brand power, to engage with our community.

“We currently connect with 4,000 people each week on our outreach programme – and this also allows us to build our fanbase at a time when the size of our stadium precludes many from attending matches.”

Jim added: “We have 20,000 students and 2,000 colleagues who work at BU and are very much part of the community – and one of our roles is to encourage students to remain in Bournemouth and Dorset after graduation, with all the economic benefits that entails.

“We have more students on work placement than any other university in the UK and there is an absolute business case that this works – a recent survey of graduate employability put us 15th amongst universities in the UK.

“We work closely with AFC Bournemouth to the mutual benefit of two leading organisations.”

Dr Richard Southern, Head of Department at the National Centre for Computer Animation, which is based at the university, gave a fascinating talk to guests about the latest developments in virtual reality, artificial intelligence and immersive media and how they are used by students.

AFC Business, the free to join business club with more than 750 members, is the engine for all the club’s commercial activities.

It was launched in 2009 and gives members exclusive offers at AFC Bournemouth, access to events and is a great chance to meet local businesses. 

AFC Business’ six main partners are Bournemouth Chamber of Trade and Commerce, Dorset Chamber of Commerce and Industry, Global Reach, Hill Osborne, Strategic Solutions and Dorset Search & Rescue.

The next AFC Business event is the Spring Al Fresco Dining Evening at Vitality Stadium on Thursday, April 9.

For further information about the business club, email or call 0344 576 1910. 

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Honour for Yellows’ night buses

STAR TURN: Celebrating Yellow Buses winning an AM:PM award are, from left Marketing & Promotions Assistant Pauline Foot, Marketing Manager Fiona Harwood and Sales Executive – Operations Jay Thornton

Yellow Buses has been honoured for helping people get to a night out in Bournemouth – and back home again afterwards. 

The locally-owned bus company triumphed in the AM:PM Awards which celebrate achievements boosting the town’s night time economy. Yellows were successful in the Getting Out Getting Home category for the introduction of the Night One and Night Five services. 

The category recognises individuals or companies operating in the BH postcodes area for their commitment or actions to provide a safe and/or pleasurable travel experience Night One is a half-hourly service from Westbourne to Christchurch via Bournemouth on Fridays and Saturdays from 12.30am to 4am. Night Five is a regular Friday and Saturday service from Bournemouth Square to Bournemouth University via Charminster and Winton between 12.45am and 3.55am. 

Yellow Buses’ Marketing and Sales Manager Fiona Harwood said: “We were delighted to win this award. We are very much part of the fabric of the Bournemouth community and it is our role to get people to their nights out and back home safely. 

“We work closely with many of the bars, clubs, venues, attractions and accommodation-providers right across the conurbation and it is this joined-up, partnership working that helps the vital night time economy to thrive. “The night time economy in Bournemouth is particularly important as it supports more than 2,500 jobs and brings more than £130 million into the local economy.” 

The AM:PM Awards focus on celebrating the achievements and successes of Bournemouth’s town centre (and beyond) hospitality businesses. They are administered by BCP Council, in association with the Town Centre BID, and primarily aimed at supporting the bars, clubs and other venues and rewarding great service and amazing staff.  

Yellow Buses operates a fleet of 130 buses and 16 coaches with more than 410 staff. The company carries just under 15m passengers a year with its vehicles operating nearly five million miles across the Bournemouth, Poole, Christchurch and East Dorset area.

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University on the ball with AFC Bournemouth

University on the ball with AFC Bournemouth

Businesses in Dorset could take a leaf out of AFC Bournemouth’s book and draw upon the skills of Bournemouth University’s students and academics.

More than 70 businessmen and women heard how BU provides the Premier League club with expertise across a range of disciplines.

That included a testing time 11 years ago when the Cherries could barely pay staff before a series of promotions to top-flight football, with BU’s students proudly mucking in.
The March breakfast networking event by AFC Business, which has 2,000 members and is the club’s free-to-join business club, was held at BU’s Fusion Building on Talbot Campus.

BU has been the club’s official higher education partner since 2013, with AFC Bournemouth’s commercial director Rob Mitchell, a BU graduate, forging links back in 2008 when he arrived at the Cherries

He told the audience: “One of the first partnerships I wanted to forge was with the university because of the resources here, the students, the academics – the support that the university could give would be boundless.”

BU has provided the Cherries since 2008 with skills across various disciplines, including sports science, marketing, research, coaching, physiotherapy and media, as well as helping out on match days.

A number of students have gone on to work full-time at AFC Bournemouth, Rob said. “It has been a bit of a career path for them.”

There are also player appearances at BU, with guest talks, special topics and links with equality and diversity and mental health and wellbeing.

BU is also supports AFC Bournemouth’s girls’ football programme as part of the club’s drive to promote and increase female participation in the game.

Attendees heard how the football club and university teamed up on a coaching programme for 180 Chinese students, over three years, as part of China’s bid to be an international force in soccer by 2050.

Jim Andrews, BU’s chief operating officer, said that engagement between business and the university, which has 20,000 students and contributes £1 million a day to the regional economy, is essential if talent is to be kept within the region.

He said: “Something that makes BU distinct is the number of students we have on placement at any one time. We are one of the only institutions to offer a work placement for every undergraduate course. The reason we do that is because work placement means better employment outcomes. It is really important to us that we work with local companies, national companies and international companies to provide those opportunities for our students to get real-life practical experiences because that is what you, as companies, are looking for.”

The event also heard an update on the regional and national economy from Professor Jim Roach and from Ian Jones, head of regional community partnerships at BU.

After the event Rob said: “This was another informative breakfast event for decision-makers and entrepreneurs, with us showing how businesses in Dorset can successfully follow the Cherries’ example by drawing upon the considerable skills and expertise of BU’s students and academics across a range of disciplines.”

For further information about the business club please email Aysia Smith at aysia.smith

Official partners of AFC Business are Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce, Dorset Chamber of Commerce & Industry, Dorset Mental Health Forum, Hill Osborne and Strategic Solutions.

The next business club event, the spring BBQ, takes place on 11th April at Vitality Stadium, followed by a networking breakfast at the same venue on 8th May.

Paying respects

Thanking the business partners of AFC Business, Rob paid tribute to the late Bill Riddle, the vice president and chairman of Bournemouth Chamber of Trade & Commerce and a highly respected figure in the town’s business community.

Rob said: “Bill was a fantastic supporter of the football club and business club. He was an avid Sunderland supporter but I know that AFC Bournemouth was very close to his heart as well.

“On behalf of the football club I want to send our sincere condolences and thoughts and prayers to Bill’s family, friends and everyone that was associated with Bill as well.”

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Dorset companies to benefit as £13.4 million support scheme launches

Essential business support worth up to £13.4 million is available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across Dorset under a comprehensive scheme launching this week.

The Dorset Business Growth Partnership is designed to help any county-based SME become more competitive in the market. Dedicated strands of activity will include pre-start and start-up support and improving companies’ digital capabilities, management and leadership skills and scope for internationalisation.  Access to finance will be delivered through grants and loans alongside advice, mentoring, training and events.

The three-year SME Competitiveness programme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is led by WSX Enterprise and the Dorset Growth Hub with a range of support partners.

Programme & Partnership Manager Lucy Cooper said: “We’ve done a great deal of planning to put this highly integrated programme together, based on what companies and entrepreneurs in Dorset have said are the key barriers to growth for them . This is all about creating transformational change and benefits for SMEs in all parts of Dorset, as well as having a foundation on which to build sustainable business support for the future.”

A key feature of the programme is tailored support for specific sectors such as manufacturing, the creative and digital industries, tourism and hospitality, and health and social care.

Well-established business support organisations are involved in delivery as programme partners. They include Dormen, The Arts Development Company, Silicon South, YTKO and Bournemouth University.

The programme has the backing of local authorities across the county while the Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is acting as a strategic partner. Bournemouth Borough Council is the accountable body for the programme.

Launch events for project partners in the east and west of the county have been held this week – at West Dorset District Council’s South Walks House in Dorchester and AFC Bournemouth’s Vitality Stadium.

Following launch, the Dorset Growth Hub and partners will work together to highlight the programme to eligible SMEs.

For more details and information on eligibility, visit

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Entrepreneurs of the future show their talent and skills in ‘Google Online Marketing Challenge

Entrepreneurs of the future from Bournemouth University are showing off their talent and skills and making their mark in the world of online marketing.  The impressive team of six final year students from Bournemouth University are taking part in the global Google Online Marketing Challenge and have teamed up with Coleman Marine Insurance in a challenge revolving around the launch of their brand new website.

The Google Online Marketing Challenge is an annual competition, promoted by Google which provides a unique opportunity for students to experience and create online marketing campaigns using Google AdWords. The success of the competition has seen over 110,000 students and lecturers from almost 100 countries participating over the last 9 years.

Students are given a $250 AdWords advertising budget, provided by Google and are tasked with developing and running an online advertising campaign for a business or non-profit organization over a three- week period. The team that develops and communicates the most successful campaigns win some spectacular prizes, including trips to the Google offices in America.

The Challenge is open to student teams of three to six members, from undergraduate or graduate courses.  Last year saw one of Bournemouth University’s teams becoming the only UK team to reach the regional semi-finals, a significant achievement for the University.

Teaming up with Coleman Marine Insurance is an enthusiastic team of 6 students, bringing together a diverse mix of skills and experience: Elliot Duffy and Adam Benmehirize studying Hospitality Management, Dexter Murray, Hospitality & Sports Management, Katherine Coxeter-Perkins, Sports Management, Tamsin Wade and Emily Witherden, Retail Management.

Coleman Marketing Manager, Ollie Parkinson commented “We have been really impressed with the level of professionalism, knowledge and engagement that the students have shown. Google Adwords is a complex and intricate platform and managing a live campaign is a real skill. We will be fascinated to see the outcome of the campaign that the students have put in place and wish them the best of luck with the challenge.”

Coleman have tasked the team to promote their newly launched marine web site and invited the students along to the Sunseeker pre-season boat show in Poole to get a flavour of the yachting and boating world, experience stepping on to luxury, multi million pound Sunseeker yachts and gaining a glimpse of the lifestyle that goes hand in hand with these stunning vessels.

Commenting on behalf of the team, Dexter and Elliot enthused, “We were attracted to digital marketing because of our third-year work placements and definitely want to pursue this further in our future careers.  The Google Online Marketing Challenge is providing a fantastic platform for us to be able to show-case our digital marketing skills. It’s good having real money to spend and being able to help a business by managing  live advertising campaign to  drive clients to their new website. We feel very motivated to do well for Coleman and are learning a lot about the marine insurance sector!”

Katherine, Tamsin and Emily added, “Before our campaign went live we produced a pre-campaign brief which we had to submit to Google. The brief covered the research that we had carried out about the British marine sector, identified our typical target market and suitable target phrases to attract and direct potential Clients to the Coleman Marine Insurance website.  Our success will be measured by the number of visits to the website that convert to quote requests.  During our research we established that our target customer is 52 years old, earning £84,000 per year, with an average value of a vessel being £191,000. We named this persona Morgan!”

The Google online marketing challenge lasts for 3 weeks and during this time the talented team will monitor online activity and make appropriate changes to ensure that the Google ad spend is as effective and relevant as it can be and achieving best results.

BU Senior Marketing Lecturer Philip Alford advised, “It has been excellent to engage with several local businesses from different industries for this Challenge.  We are providing our students with some great opportunities to try out their learning in the work place with real, live examples. Bournemouth University prides itself on offering such engaged scholarship and student centred learning. I wish the Coleman Marine Team every success over the coming weeks!”


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Bournemouth BIDs Conference

BU BIDS Conference

BU BIDS Conference

Keynote Speakers
Dr Julie Grail – Managing Director of The BIDs Business

Passionate about Business Improvement Districts (BIDs) and City Leadership & Governance,Julie has spent 25 years working in, researching on and consulting on all aspects of City Management and Leadership locally, nationally and internationally. Despite the specific local circumstances and needs differing, the same broad principles apply the world over.


Mo Aswat – Founder & Director of Mosaic Partnership

Mosaic Partnership provide diverse services to develop people, organisations and partnerships to manage town centres, business parks, industrial estates and communities, and we develop sustainable plans, projects and funding sources to implement change.


Paul Kinvig – Aspirin Business -Facilitator and Coach

Facilitator & Coach with Aspirin Business Solutions, Paul has nearly 25 years’ experience in working with public, private & not for profit organisations through his various executive roles in media, economic development & growth and business coaching. Paul spent over 16 years working at a senior level within regional press, including 8 years at Managing Director level.


Book your tickets HERE
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BU Final Year Students Offer Free Consultancy to Companies in Bournemouth


A Group of five talented final year Business Studies students from Bournemouth University need your help!  They are required to complete 1000 hours consultancy services within industry between them free of charge as part of their course.

They have a diverse set of skills and are relatively flexible with business requirements.

Some previous examples of these types of projects:

•Reviewing and making recommendations on business /
management processes and/or systems
•New product development
•Market research
•Market opportunities, such as expanding into new markets
•Brand development
•Designing / building a website
•Obtaining and evaluating customer feedback
•Developing / contributing to the development of a
business plan
•Developing / running employee surveys
•Carrying out a strategic review
•Developing a business plan

If you or your business can offer a placement, please contact Sam Grant for more information. 

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