First SBC workshop success

Last Wednesday over 50 people from across the UK gathered at Lancaster University Management School for the first ever Small Business Charter workshop, facilitated by Professor Ellie Hamilton. There was a tangible buzz in the air during what was a packed and diverse agenda.

Professor Angus Laing recalled the origins of the SBC and why it was felt vital for the Chartered ABS to take the lead. Business School deans, he said, are motivated by reputation and revenue and the SBC award has the potential to deliver on both counts. Not only is the badge valuable, but the assessment process is hugely informative on its own.

Mike Blackburn, Chair of the Manchester LEP challenged us to look at how business schools can make it easier for SMEs to approach them. Indeed this was a recurring theme throughout the day. He also encouraged us to consider how we work with local agencies such as the LEPs, recognising that each LEP operates in its own way.

Professor Nigel Lockett gave a thoroughly inspirational, entertaining and honest account of how good work and effective marketing resulted in Leeds University Business School being awarded the Entrepreneurial University of the Year and how this encouraged the whole university to embrace enterprise. Words are important and he encouraged us not to refer to enterprise work as a “third tier” to the work universities do, after research and teaching, but rather as an equal part in a “triple chocolate”.

Drs Amanda Berry and Julie Holland from Loughborough University displayed infectious enthusiasm and energy in explaining the work they have done with e-learning and the importance of engaging the student union. Attracting students to enterprise work is partly about location, location, location – so setting up in or near the student union is a huge advantage.

Suzanne Caldwell from the Cumbria Chamber of Commerce gave a clear illustration of the value of partnership with like minded bodies. And Kate Beresford from EEUK gave a helpful insight into the mind of the assessor.

One of the most popular sessions showcased the Lancaster University Management School’s Entrepreneurs-in-Residence (EiRs). Ricardo Zozimo from the Management School introduced the concept and left the floor open for two EiRs, Andrew Moses and Joe Hall (or Alan Sugar and Del-boy, as they became known), to share their experiences, in terms of how they first became engaged, what it is they give, and just as importantly, what it is they get (and it isn’t money!)

The final session was given by Maggie Anderson and Nikki Duke from Edinburgh Napier University, highlighting the difficulties both SMEs and academics find in trying to work together.

This may have been the first such event, but it certainly won’t be the last. And next time there will be more time for questions, answers and general discussion. I will leave the last words to one of the participants. “There were some really good examples of best practice and I am going away with ideas for my own institution.” The event has also given us plenty of ideas about what the SBC can do, so watch this space, or better still get involved and send us your ideas.

We are grateful to our hosts for the event and look forward to the next one on 6th September at University College London.