Support through LSBU’s Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme has helped new practice PTG Architectural Technology realise its sustainable housing vision
Alumni of LSBU’s School of the Built Environment and Architecture (BEA), Thomas A Gray, Francesco Ponsanu and Andrea Tiana were awarded a place on the University’s Graduate Entrepreneur Scheme (GES) for 2017/18. “We were told about the GES during our final year at LSBU while completing one of our final modules, which involved coming up with a viable business plan within industry,” explains Thomas. “Our plan seemed to be viable enough for our degree and so we decided to join the GES.”
The trio are hoping that participation will benefit their new business, PTG Architectural Technology, an architectural technology practice that provides technical digital support to larger architectural practices, developers and contractors on the technological advances within industry. Key to this approach is collaborative working and communication using 3D architectural building information modelling (BIM). “We have been on the GES since September 2017 and have been working hard ever since. We have collaborated with Neil Whitehead on a nightclub in Chelsea, which was a great step in the right direction,” Thomas adds.
Support from LSBU
More recently, Thomas, Francesco and Andrea have been supported by the BEA in applying for their Chartered Institute of Architectural Technology (CIAT) accreditation, and have also become ambassadors of the Student Enterprise department through delivering events to the University’s student community and working with the Business Solutions Centre.
“We are applying for the CIAT accreditation as both individuals and as a practice so that we are recognised amongst our peers and receive the latest information about the industry and architectural technologies as a whole,” says Thomas. “To have the company registered and credited by the CIAT could take over a year as we need to be established for a certain period of time. CIAT accreditation will give other companies we chose to work with assurance in the same way they would be buy hiring an architect who is credited by RIBA.”
Giving something back to LSBU
Thomas says that they decided to become ambassadors of the Student Enterprise department “because we feel that if people have ideas, they need sharing. Before this though people’s ideas must be helped to be shaped, moulded and perfected. The Student Enterprise team are really incredible and can help people to fine tune their ideas before and during taking their product or service to market. For us, this involves taking lectures with other members of our GES cohort and others to try and teach students what the programme is like, and what we have learnt.”
The importance of the support available
With all three partners having only recently graduated from university and, in comparison to larger companies, holding much less experience, Thomas says that being able to turn to LSBU for help has been invaluable. “The experience we do have is with the technology. Also, due to recently graduating, we haven’t got a large amount of capital between us, which is a massive hindrance when setting up a new company. As a result, the support from LSBU has provided us with an office from which to work, hold meetings and grow our ideas. The loan provided by the GES helps in the early stages of setting up the business, by securing the needed and expensive software and other general set-up costs. This reduced our overheads for the first year dramatically, which really was a huge help.”
With their practice still in its early days, Thomas and his partners are aware that it will take a while for their ambitions to be realised, but they take a long-term view. “Our future goals are very simple: we wish to change the way people and the industry view social and affordable housing,” he explains. “In London the current average house price is £500,000. Trying to find a deposit for something like this is near impossible, with most people forced into renting, and doomed to never make it onto the ladder until much later in their lives. We are aiming to introduce a modular, prefabricated, sustainable and inclusive property/set of properties to try and solve this problem. Working closely and collaborating with larger architectural practices, as well as other industry disciplines, we want to work on large-scale project across the globe, helping us to gain more visibility, credibility and recognition, as the most difficult and frustrating part of our industry is ‘no one will trust you to build a building until you’ve built a building’.”