The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) launched its impactful Enterprise Advisers (EA) Programme to link businesses with education in the region to support young people with skills development and help the Solent economy to prosper in the future.
Education leaders from local schools, colleges and universities have benefited from the networking opportunities given by some of the region’s most successful businesspeople in their role as an EA. By regularly meeting to exchange information and gain an understanding of local enterprise, the programme supports careers and training across the Solent region.
Brooke Hoskins, Solent LEP Executive Director for Skills, said: “Making the connection between business and education is critical for our region’s future success. Giving young people the information they need to pursue their career ambitions, while ensuring businesses have a workforce coming through with the skills they need, has never been more important.
“We are keen to welcome more business leaders from a range of industries and backgrounds to become Enterprise Advisers – it is an important and rewarding role which will make a difference, helping young people to thrive and boosting our region’s future prosperity.”
Dr Shah Siddiqui, Founder and CEO of Time Research and Innovation, is an EA with the Solent LEP and a great advocate of the programme. He is neurodivergent - dyslexic and autistic, but this has not held him back in life and he shares his story to encourage others.
He says: “I urge more professionals from different sectors to join the EA programme as I believe their participation helps the community enormously. It’s very satisfying to see positive results from the work”.
Dr Siddiqui uses his remarkable journey of overcoming challenges to make an impactful difference in schools, universities, and the wider community, with a particular focus on empowering neurodivergent individuals.
In addition to working with the Solent LEP's Careers Hub (Solent Careers Hub) in his role as an EA to help young people find their next steps, he has an impressive background with many achievements under his belt. This includes recognition as a Highly Commended Entrepreneur of the Year; a renowned Dyslexic Thinker and Neurodiverse Speaker; an expert in Custom Software Development and as a LinkedIn Lead Generation Specialist.
But Dr Siddiqui’s early years were very challenging – he encountered physical and social barriers that he fought hard to overcome. These experiences taught him valuable life lessons which he now shares with the education leaders he meets in his role as an EA, to be passed onto young people.
He says: “I'm working with Solent LEP as an Enterprise Adviser because I think that telling my story to education leaders will help a lot of young people turn their lives around when they face challenges or people who make their life difficult.
“I think my experiences, the struggle I had, will inspire them to push ahead and not give up – it's very rewarding work and I feel I am making a difference in the role of EA”.
Dr Siddiqui’s passion for giving back shines through in his role as an Enterprise Adviser at the Solent LEP. Driven by a deep sense of purpose, he is dedicated to guiding education leaders and inspiring young individuals, reminding them that they don’t have to face hurdles alone.
Dr Siddiqui was born in Bangladesh and brought up as one of 11 children by a widowed mother, who was devoted to her family and set an example by being strong and supportive.
From battling a tumour to overcoming daunting social barriers, Dr Siddiqui’s journey has been marked by remarkable perseverance. Growing up without a diagnosis for his dyslexia and autism, he faced significant hurdles, especially in the schooling system, but never let this stop him from achieving his goals. “Never give up – never surrender!” is his mantra.
He said: “My mother didn't know I was autistic. I wasn't social, I just wanted to do things on my own, but I was very good at certain things and not good at many things. Mum used to tell me: ‘Just concentrate on the good things you can do, not the things you can't do’. So, when people used to bully me, I used to think, ‘OK, it doesn't matter’. I just ignored it and did my schoolwork on my own –and later, when I was in secondary school, I got top marks”.
Reflecting on his own journey, Dr Siddiqui says he would now tell his younger self to stay focused, face challenges head-on, and never lose sight of his dreams. His path to where he is now has not been an easy one, but by having a determined mindset, he is now able to help others achieve their own ambitions.
Dr Siddiqui's story is a true inspiration for aspiring entrepreneurs, education leaders, and anyone facing tough times. His journey of triumph over adversity showcases the incredible power of resilience and self-belief. Through his commitment to mentorship and support, he demonstrates that with strong belief in oneself, great achievements are possible.
Dr Siddiqui said: “Despite being labelled as ‘odd’ because of undiagnosed autism, I came to the UK with financial support from my mother to study for a Digital Film diploma. But then I became ill and was diagnosed with a benign brain tumour which put my studies on hold. An operation to remove it was successful but left me physically weaker, with impaired vision and a short memory, however, I went on to pass my college exams, I had resilience”.
Dr Siddiqui’s first business was a media company and TV channel in London and on the Sky satellite platform for the Bangladeshi community in the UK and Europe. When it ran into financial difficulties, he worked as a nurse to support his family in the UK. He had been diagnosed as dyslexic by this time but restarted his education, at Solent University studying System Engineering, while working for the NHS.
At this time, he proposed a new telemedicine application project to launch a ‘virtual hospital’ accessible globally where people can access advice and treatment. He passed his degree with First Class honours, but his research proposal was initially rejected.
Eventually he found support at Portsmouth University, where his supervisor encouraged him to pursue a Master's in Technology and PhD in Computing and AI, and he received £10,000 from the budget to build his system. Dr Siddiqui set up Time Research and Innovation at the end of 2019, using AI in his research work throughout the Covid-19 pandemic.
He has since grown his business by carrying out research and software development on other projects and developing his Gen Z marketing wing, while his World Health Aid application is in its testing phase at present.
He said: “I couldn't have done any of this if I was limited by my neurodiversity, but my wife believed in me, and I believed in myself."
Dr Saddiqui’s experiences serve as a powerful reminder that no matter the challenges, achieving great things is within reach. He leads by example, demonstrating that setbacks are merely stepping stones to success.
The LEP's Solent Careers Hubs are an important part of the careers education infrastructure for 11-18 year olds in England, and is run in partnership with the Careers and Enterprise Company – the national body for careers education.
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