Posted Thursday 3 July 2014
Last month, 120 speakers and delegates from around the UK gathered at Kingston Business School to discuss the challenges faced by entrepreneurship educators at the ninth annual conference of the Higher Education Entrepreneurship Group (HEEG).
The two-day conference, entitled ‘Towards the entrepreneurial university - where are we now?', attracted an impressive line-up of keynote speakers from various backgrounds within enterprise education, business and industry.
Opening the conference, Kingston's head of Enterprise Education and chair of HEEG, Dr Martha Mador said: "There is no one model with which to build an entrepreneurial university; rather, it is a case of drawing on a number of strands to help build the entrepreneurial ecosystem appropriate to your university. ‘Localisation' and ‘connectivity' are essential to this process and, in the next two days, we will see examples of how this has been implemented successfully to the mutual benefit of university and community."
After an overview of the current issues, followed by a discussion of the importance of enterprise education in providing graduates with the skills to successfully enter the workforce, representatives from Plymouth University described how forging new local partnerships is crucial to the entrepreneurial journey. With regard to connectivity, chair of ABS Professor Laing discussed the importance of supporting the small business sector: "The abolition of the Regional Development Authorities left a large gap in terms of funding and support for regional businesses. Business schools can play a key role in filling this gap," he said.
In another session, Arnoud Jullens, head of enterprise at the Royal Academy of Engineering, explained how they harness the expertise, insight and networks of Academy fellows to support the country's most promising engineering entrepreneurs. Social enterprise was also considered, while breakout sessions looked at the benefits of crowdfunding and crowdsourcing from various perspectives. (Visit HEEG's website to view all of the presentations.) Delegates also enjoyed a midsummer dinner cruise on the Thames, where they had the opportunity to network and participated in a range of enterprising games and challenges.
Closing the conference, Professor Penny Sparke, pro vice-chancellor Research and Enterprise, spoke of Kingston's commitment to entrepreneurship education. "Taking into account everything that we have heard, it is clear that enterprise educators have a key role to play in helping universities grow and develop, in addition to the wider business community," she added.
Sponsored by Kingston University and City University London, HEEG is a regional network of academics; business development, knowledge transfer and entrepreneurship professionals; careers services staff; senior managers; and students based in higher education institutions across south-east England. It aims to increase the capacities and capabilities of higher education to develop more enterprising students and more graduate business startups through training and sharing best practice.
You can access slides from the conference presentations, or view photos from the event: