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Universities to Embrace Enterprise

21 November 2008
Universities to embrace enterprise
Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, with Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, pictured on Social Enterprise Day – part of Global Entrepreneurship Week. Photo credit: Terry Richards.

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 (UEN).

Shriti Vadera, Minister for Economic Competitiveness and Small Business, launched the Networks at a reception at the Microsoft Offices in London yesterday during Social Enterprise Day – part of Global Entrepreneurship Week.

Pam Alexander, Chief Executive of SEEDA, spoke on behalf of the Regional Development Agencies involved in the UENs. "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," she said.

"Major corporate businesses will be right at the heart of designing and delivering course work and activities to develop both the graduate entrepreneurs and the enterprising graduates needed for their future success."

The 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 yesterday.

"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."

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."

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