Posted Friday 8 September 2023
Kingston University's nationally recognised expertise in enterprise education has seen it shortlisted for a prestigious Times Higher Education Award.
Several thousand students take part in the University's enterprise education programme every year, building a pipeline of entrepreneurial students who go on to start their own businesses. Its success in this area has made a name for the University at a national level, with Kingston ranked top or second in the country for graduate start-ups in the Higher Education Business and Community Interaction Survey for seven of the past eight years.
More than a fifth of the student body across the University's four Faculties benefited from enterprise initiatives during the 2021-22 academic year. Its long-term commitment to this work is reflected in the four values that underpin the University's Town House Strategy – enterprising, innovative, ambitious and inclusive.
Features of the University's entrepreneurial offer include the annual Bright Ideas competition, hosted at Kingston Business School. It sees students from across all Faculties develop their ideas under the guidance of a dedicated enterprise team, before presenting their concepts to a panel of industry experts. The competition attracted more than 1,000 entries involving 2,500 students between 2019 and 2022.
The Nest incubation space, meanwhile, supports entrepreneurial alumni to accelerate their business ideas, with facilities, services and investment opportunities designed to boost growth and innovation.
Since 2021, the University has been spearheading a major campaign highlighting the importance of skills for innovation in driving a thriving economy. The campaign has garnered widespread support from business and industry leaders, government policy-makers, politicians and peers. These future-proofed skills needed by employees and entrepreneurs alike are now being embedded across its curriculum, starting with Navigate modules being rolled out across every first year undergraduate course this autumn.
The University is also an active participant in the borough's business life. It is a patron member of the Kingston Chamber of Commerce, headline sponsor of the Kingston Borough Business Awards and an active participant in the South London Partnership. Kingston Business School has supported 350 business leaders – the largest cohort of any delivery partner – through its involvement in the government-funded Help to Grow Management programme.
Further afield, the University also shares its enterprise expertise with international partners. It has worked with the Tech StartUp School of Lviv Polytechnic National University since 2018, training staff to support enterprising students. In 2022, this led to several teams of Ukrainian entrepreneurs winning start-up awards in a British Council competition.
Linking with the business community and other major organisations across the borough through hackathons and other initiatives in which students came up with ideas to solve complex problems was another way in which the University applied its expertise in enterprise and innovation, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Knowledge Exchange and Innovation Dr Martin Davies said. "Kingston University is firmly at the forefront of activity to support the regional economy, held in high regard for its work boosting innovation across South London and providing a range of support for start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises," he added.
The Times Higher Award shortlisting demonstrated the importance of the University's work fostering entrepreneurial skills and an enterprising mindset amongst its students, Pro Vice-Chancellor of Education Professor John Craig said. "The ability to think and act entrepreneurially is increasingly important for graduates entering the workplace," he said. "Our support enables students to become capable and self-confident learners. Through dedicated programmes, they explore and develop products, services and business ventures, gaining valuable future skills, knowledge and experience at the same time."
The Times Higher Education Awards' Outstanding Entrepreneurial University category recognises institutions that have developed and delivered an exceptional approach to embedding entrepreneurship. Judges place emphasis on universities whose vision and strategy put enterprise, entrepreneurship and innovation at the heart of what they do, creating an environment that encourages entrepreneurial behaviours in students and staff. They are also keen to see evidence of a strategic approach to entrepreneurship that demonstrates the potential to influence and improve other institutions' work in this area.
Award winners will be announced at a special ceremony on 7 December, marking the conclusion of the THE Campus Live UK&IE 2023 conference in Liverpool.