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Nigel Biggs

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Enterprise Academy : learning to be enterprising; a key agency for life

Nigel Biggs, Research and Enterprise Support, University of Surrey

Norman Jackson, SCEPTrE, University of Surrey

Osama Khan, Faculty of Management and Law, University of Surrey

 

Being enterprising does not only mean that you are interested in making money or setting up your own business. It also embodies a set of dispositions, practical abilities and ways of thinking and behaving that are useful to be successful in any professional field.

 

The aim of the University of Surrey’s ‘life-wide enterprise’ project is to highlight and exploit the simple fact that being enterprising is an essential agency for life: whether you are a doctor, a lawyer, in business, in education or public service there are times when you need to be enterprising and opportunities for being enterprising are found in all aspects of life. We encourage and stimulate enterprise through an EnterpriseAcademy and Summer School, competitions, prizes, paid work opportunities and students’ own self-determined enterprises.

 

The paper will focus on our EnterpriseAcademy project which was piloted in 2008-09. EnterpriseAcademy is located in the co-curriculum outside the formal academic programme. It comprises two pairs of 3hr workshops each interspersed with a team based enterprise challenge. About 20-25 students volunteer to participate in each of the two process. The enterprise challenges include a profit making enterprise and a social enterprise. The workshops facilitate planning and the evaluation of what has been learnt. We use filming to record the enterprise activities and to help teams reflect on their experiences. We use our Learning through Experience Certificate to recognize and value this important, informal and personal form of learning.  We support the whole enterprise and encourage story telling through wikis. The paper will describe our first EnterpriseAcademy and reflect on the challenges and opportunities of this type of co-curricular experience.

 

Key words: enterprise, learning to be enterprising, life-wide enterprise, co-curriculum

 

Presentation

 

Life-wide enterprise in action in a University environment

Nigel Biggs, Research and Enterprise Support, University of Surrey

Life-wide enterprise is all about learning through the experience of trying to be enterprising. We grow our personal knowledge about what is involved in being enterprising through doing it and thinking about what we have done.

“Just do it” (an exhortation stolen by Nike) is the mantra of any leader, educator, mentor or facilitator of practical enterprise or entrepreneurship. The role of the Entrepreneur-in-Residence (E-I-R) at the University of Surrey is to find enterprising students and help them do just that. 

 

This paper will describe the background and experiences over the last four years in trying to develop and embed enterprise across the University of Surrey. It started with the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Development (CEED) and its dedicated location, the CEED POD.

 

The launch of the SETsquared business incubation centre and the first business plan competition followed not far behind but then the Professor of Entrepreneurship, who had championed enterprise, left the University and the CEED POD closed. The part-time Enterprise in Residence role was then established and filled by an experienced entrepreneur (me!) who had much to learn about the University environment.

 

Following a serendipitous meeting with SCEPTrE, a long term partnership has emerged closely linking academic and business backgrounds to develop the concept of Life-Wide Enterprise within SCEPTrE's broader concept of a lifewide curriculum. This includes the Enterprise (and Social Enterprise) Academy and the enterprising student organisation CoLab.

 

Also in conjunction with the University’s Department for Research & Enterprise Support, a wide variety of enterprise activities are available including the Surrey Innovation Challenge ideas competition; the Business Enterprise Student Support Scheme, offering £5k grants to start a business; a residential enterprise summer school; talks, clinics and one-to-one consultations; introductions to local businesses and visits by entrepreneurs.

 

Ideas for the way ahead include a real University business run by successive teams of placement students. That really would be the mantra of “Just do it” put into practice.

 

The paper will describe how these activities work in practice and will reflect on lessons learned and improvements that could be made.

 

Key words: enterprise, lifewide enterprise, placement, entrepreneur-in-residence, innovation, incubation

 

Presentation

 

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