Young Sheffield film-maker sets up in business as Sheffield Hallam University 'refocuses' resources on entrepreneurs

An acclaimed young film-maker has set up in business with the help of Sheffield Hallam University - one of hundreds of students to take the plunge every year.

By David Walsh
Thursday, 20th January 2022, 8:06 am

Ibrahim Ahmed launched Steel Films with the encouragement of lecturers and his first short film - about Burngreave councillor Safiya Saeed - was selected to be part of the BAFTA accredited film festival Aesthetica.

His success come as the university ‘refocuses’ resources on working with business and civic partnerships after winning ‘outstanding entrepreneurial university’ at the Times Higher Education Awards.

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Prof Kevin Kerrigan, pro vice-chancellor for business and enterprise, said his aim was to ensure entrepreneurial principles and culture pervade the organisation to encourage creativity, innovation and risk taking among staff, students and partners.

Ibrahim set up Steel Films during his second year as a film and media production studies student.

Originally from Sheffield, he spent time in London making short films for BBC Three before returning to ‘hone his craft’ at university and establish himself on the Sheffield scene.

Lecturers suggested he contact the university’s Enterprise Team for advice on setting up in business. And he was offered a shared workspace in the Hallam iLab incubator where workshops and networking events helped build connections in the industry.

Prof Kevin Kerrigan, pro vice-chancellor for business and enterprise, said his aim was to ensure ‘entrepreneurial principles and culture’ pervade the organisation to encourage creativity, innovation and risk-taking among staff, students and partners.

He added: “This is not necessarily the natural inclination of large corporate entities like universities, but we are developing a distinctive business-focused approach which values autonomy, enterprise and real-world application.”

Hallam’s ‘entrepreneurial ethos’ was demonstrated by its investments, including the £2.3m, 150-business incubator Hallam i-Lab, pop-up shops and the Wellbeing Accelerator at the Advanced Wellbeing Research Centre in Attercliffe. Last year, nearly 400 students took part in a new Enterprise Residency which gives the opportunity to set up a new business.

And the Sheffield Innovation Programme, a joint initiative with the University of Sheffield, has just completed a milestone 400th project with regional businesses.

Ibrahim Ahmed's first short film - about Burngreave councillor Safiya Saeed - was selected to be part of the BAFTA accredited film festival Aesthetica.

Prof Kerrigan added: “We’re proud be part of this great city and passionate about supporting its success. The Times Higher Award provides validation that Hallam is doing the right thing for our students, our city and our community by driving enterprise, entrepreneurship and applied learning projects.”

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