Universities Mobilise To Support Business and Entrepreneurs

16 04 2009

HEFCE and DIUS have said what money will be allocated to which HEIs from the Economic Challenge Investment Fund.

Standing Together provides contacts and practical examples.

Standing Together provides contacts and practical examples.

A total of 77 universities and colleges will offer between them £59,240,920 of match funding to help businesses and communities. The total amount of funding being made available by HEFCE to successful bidders is £27,572,834, with the remainder provided in the form of matching contributions from institutions and local partners.

The Economic Challenge Investment Fund opened for bids in January for its £27 million in match funding. It is designed to help institutions delivering short-term support between April 2009 and September 2010. The funding has enabled many institutions already actively engaged in entrepreneurship education, knowledge transfer and business support to boost their activities.

It’s just one part of an increasingly coordinated response by higher education institutions to the economic crisis, and enterprise and entrepreneurship are key features of many initiatives awarded funding and support.

Every university is now being challenged to be a ‘business facing university’ as Government and business look to the higher education to demonstrate how they can support the economy and their local communities.

“Demand for higher education usually grows during an economic downturn” says a useful new guide Standing Together – Universities helping business through the downturn. The guide gives names and contact details at 157 institutions and links to examples of schemes already supporting business and enterprise across the country.

Standing Together has been published by Universities UK, GuildHE and HEFCE, with support from DIUS, to provide examples of how HEIs are contributing to the effort to get British business back on track.

The recipient of the most Economic Challenge Fund money is the University of Cumbria, which will receive £1 million for its activities. Cumbria is one Northwest university with vibrant enterprise activity.

The University has in post an NCGE-NWDA Northwest Enterprise Champion, Jo Chaffer, who led a successful intensive three-day entrepreneurship course that launched a FlyingStart General Business Programme at the end of March for over 30 graduate entrepreneurs.

Other universities awarded nearly £1 million include Aston University in Birmingham, identified yesterday by the Work Foundation as the UK city hardest hit by unemployment. Its Pro Vice Chancellor for Business Partnerships and Knowledge Transfer, Dr Phil Extance, said: “We’re delighted to win this latest bid, which will enable us to increase the scope of two of our successful activities and to allow universities to help businesses tackle the difficult issues they face.

“Creating a further 104 Innovation Vouchers is excellent news as the previous round of vouchers, awarded under the INDEX project, was nearly three times oversubscribed. It indicates that there is a real demand for support for innovation even in the current difficult economic climate”

Next in the Economic Challenge list is the University of Derby, collaborating with four further education colleges – West Nottinghamshire College, Derby College, North Notts College and Chesterfield College. One key strand of Derby’s proposal is the University’s own Enterprise Scheme, which will be extended to currently excluded groups such as redundant professionals and graduates, or those at risk of unemployment.

There will be 20 incubator access grants and 12 enterprise bursaries offered to encourage new businesses to start up.

Derby’s Commercial Director Andrew Hartley, who helped shape the bid, said: “This support programme incorporates the strengths of individual partners and fills gaps in provision that have been identified with support from external agencies such as Job Centre Plus and Business Link. “The objective of this collaboration is to ensure that support is available at the point of need. Independent research commissioned by the University of Derby found that a lot of people individuals would like to access services at their local institution.

“This programme will therefore aim to offer co-ordinated services through both the University of Derby and a linked network of the emda-funded Higher Education Centres within further education colleges and local authority managed business/innovation centres across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.”

Derby is just one example of a university which actively supports graduate entrepreneurship. In March it hosted an NCGE FlyingStart Rally and Creative Careers Fair where GQ Editor Dylan Jones revealed how he graduated from Saint Martins School of Art during the recession of the early 1980s. He revealed it was a time of opportunity for entrepreneurs.

Speaking to over 120 potential small business owners, he said: “The economic downturn in the 1980s was one of the most creative periods,” he said. “People were starting record labels, magazines and nightclubs. There was a huge vacuum for cultural enterprises to fill. Therefore a creative groundswell took place.”

DIUS, HEFCE, Universities UK and the CBI, RDAs, the Business Link network, and many other regional and national bodies are investing great effort in working together with universities to help businesses and individuals. It’s time to showcase the great work taking place at HEIs and support opportunities for entrepreneurship.

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New Networks Launched To Boost University Entrepreneurship

21 11 2008

Baroness Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, with (from left) Malcolm McVicar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire; David Frost, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Chair of the NCGE; and NCGE Chief Executive Ian Robertson.

Baroness Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, with (from left) Malcolm McVicar, Vice-Chancellor of the University of Central Lancashire; David Frost, Director-General of the British Chambers of Commerce and Chair of the NCGE; and NCGE Chief Executive Ian Robertson.

Around 100,000 students and graduates will get the chance to develop world-class skills as entrepreneurs and business leaders with the launch of the first University Enterprise Networks (UENs).

Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business launched the Networks at a reception at the Microsoft Offices in London yesterday, Thursday 20 November, as part of Global Entrepreneurship week.

These Networks are the first of their kind and will focus on the areas of science, technology, engineering, maths (STEM), Innovation and the Nuclear sector. The networks will be managed by the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE).

The UENs will aim to establish a culture of enterprise in universities by providing training, advice and encouragement to students and graduates who want to develop their business ideas or wish to become innovative employees. Each network will be further supported by sponsorship from privately owned companies and Regional Development Agencies (RDAs). This will give students first hand experience of enterprising workplaces.

The UENs follow on from a commitment made by the Government in its Enterprise Strategy to further promote and support the development of enterprise.

Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, said:

“Making graduates more business savvy and entrepreneurial is essential to Britain’s long term competitiveness.

“I would like to see more University Enterprise Networks between businesses and investors to encourage this”.

David Lammy, Minister of State for Higher Education said:

“We need stronger links between business and higher education so that we can make full use of the expertise and talents within our universities and colleges.

“University Enterprise Networks are a new kind of partnership that will nurture the enterprise skills and entrepreneurial spirit of tomorrow’s business leaders, while also helping universities engage more closely with the needs of employers today.”

Ian Robertson, Chief Executive of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship, said:

“The NCGE welcomes the commitment from companies, RDAs and universities in working with us to build the first University Enterprise Networks announced today. These networks will act as a catalyst for closer engagement between business, universities and the public sector, to respond to industry needs and contribute to UK competitiveness.”

“The NCGE’s role is to set up and manage the UENs in order that they create the right conditions for better, more responsive collaboration. The UENs will also ensure more students and graduates acquire the skills for enterprise and entrepreneurship they need to achieve business growth, whether as employees or in starting and running their own businesses.”

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, speaking on behalf of the Regional Development Agencies involved in the UENs said:

“Regional Development Agencies are delighted to be involved in developing these exciting new University Enterprise Networks, which complement our important work to link universities and businesses and create the skills needed to emerge from the economic downturn stronger and better able to compete globally.”

Stephen Uden, Microsoft UK’s Head of Skills and Economic Affairs, added:

“We are looking at a long period of economic uncertainty. That doesn’t mean that business doesn’t go on, or that there won’t be opportunities for those who can take advantage of them. What it does mean though is that those leaving university need to have the right skills to succeed”.

“Nearly half (48%) of the undergraduates we surveyed would consider starting their own business. That’s great, as small businesses are the engine room of the economy, and also where many of the many of the most innovative ideas come from. This announcement and the STEM network represent good progress in starting to change that view.”

The three University Enterprise Networks (UENs) announced yesterday were the STEM, Innovation, and Nuclear networks. The STEM UEN will be led by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) in collaboration with the East of England Development Agency (EEDA) and sponsored by Microsoft and other major companies.

The first universities to express their commitment in principle are the universities of Cambridge, Cranfield, Hertfordshire, Oxford, Reading, and Southampton. SEEDA and EEDA will concentrate on technology based, high growth enterprises.

The Innovation UEN will be led by Advantage West Midlands (AWM) and supported by HP-backed Micro Enterprise Acceleration Institute, BT, and CISCO, with Coventry University. The UEN will focus on helping students understand how Web-based  Technologies can be exploited in the creation of new business ideas, and in helping small businesses collaborate with large co-operates in the development and launch of new products in the context of the “market”.

The Nuclear UEN will be led by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), and supported by Westinghouse UK. The first university to sign up to the network is the University of Central Lancashire. The Nuclear UEN will play a major role in helping graduates acquire the innovative skills that companies across the breadth of the nuclear sector seek.

A further fourth University Enterprise Network will be launched early in the New Year. The Manufacturing UEN. Led by the North West Development Agency (NWDA) will focus on “Advanced Manufacturing”.

The NCGE’s role will be to set up and manage the UENs in order that they create the right conditions for better, more responsive collaboration. The UENs will also ensure more students and graduates acquire the skills for enterprise and entrepreneurship they need to achieve business growth, whether as employees or in starting and running their own businesses.

For further information, see www.ncge.com/uen.