Department for Business, Innovation and Skills
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Universities to Embrace Enterprise

Universities to Embrace Enterprise

DEPARTMENT FOR BUSINESS, ENTERPRISE AND REGULATORY REFORM News Release (2008/279) issued by COI News Distribution Service. 21 November 2008

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. The launch took place on (Thursday 20 November) Social Enterprise Day - part of Global Entrepreneurship week.

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."

Notes to Editors:

1. The three University Enterprise Networks (UENs) which are announced today are 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.

* Innovation UEN will be led by Advantage West Midlands, and supported by sponsored by HP's MAEI (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".

* 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) network will be launched early in the New Year - The Manufacturing UEN. Led by the North West Development Agency (NWDA), it will focus on "Advanced Manufacturing". The following universities have expressed interest in taking part: Manchester, Salford, Lancaster, Bolton, Liverpool John Moores, and Central Lancashire.

2. 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.

3. 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. 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."

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