An Entrepreneur’s perspective: Strengthening the University and SME bond
Business schools play a significant role in supporting young entrepreneurs and boosting local and regional economies. The workshop hosted on 14th November at Hilton, Wembley provided a platform for SBC schools to discuss and share their experience of engaging with entrepreneurs. The sessions were run by highly successful entrepreneurs who shared their experiences of how business schools supported them from start up to scale up as well as tips for what else could be done to make the integration process run more smoothly. Our Patron, Lord Young of Graffham, delivered the opening remarks and congratulated business schools for their pivotal role in supporting small businesses and acting as ‘anchor institutions’ in developing sustainable economies. Lord Young described business schools as “the heart of the community” in interacting with local economies. He encouraged them to explore new ideas and to continue to develop innovative and enterprising cultures not just within their business school but also within the wider institution of the university.
The event began with Rob Carroll, Director of Catapult Ventures and Vice-Chair of the Small Business Charter, presenting the SBC’s new initiative ‘National Entrepreneurs in Residence Network’ (NEIRN). Rob presented the viability and the desirability of the network and the benefits it would bring to business schools. NEIRN will develop a structured approach to sharing best practice and will potentially include mentoring. SBC schools will gain access to the pool of entrepreneurs specialising in many different sectors giving an opportunity to faculty to enhance their knowledge, ideas and research. There will be regional events focusing on regional policies, trade and other issues but will be open for entrepreneurs from other regions too. There will also be an annual event organised by the Small Business Charter to bring together all the entrepreneurs.
The NEIRN will not only bring in benefits to the business schools but also to the SMEs who will have the opportunity to meet other entrepreneurs through the qualified network.
Lord Young said that the NEIRN has the potential of being a valuable tool for the government to help shape the policy.
Ben Wilding, Director of Cameron and Wilding, presented his journey from start up to scale up with through the support of London South Bank University (LSBU). The benefits of being based in close vicinity to other entrepreneurs, incubation space provided by the university and mentoring and support by LSBU helped his team. Cameron and Wilding now employ student interns, offer placements and deliver mentoring to students. Their business and LSBU have both benefitted by working together. Ben also shared his experience of what has worked and what he has learned throughout this journey.
Stuart Miller, SBC Chair & CEO of ByBox Holdings Ltd facilitated a discussion with all attendees ‘SME skills shortage: Fact or Fiction’. The debate discussed potential research areas to explore including what else could be done to support young entrepreneurs.
In the last part of the workshop, Lord Young presented certificates to the most recently awarded business schools and congratulated them on their achievement of the Small Business Charter award.