Supporting enterprise and small businesses at the University of Liverpool Management School
Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEEL)
The Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEEL) was established at the University of Liverpool Management School (ULMS) in 2005 to promote entrepreneurship and the management of SMEs in the Northwest. CEEL was a provider for the Northwest Development Agency’s LEAD (Leadership, Enterprise and Development) programme which was designed to enhance the leadership skills of owner-managers. CEEL delivered LEAD to four cohorts of 25 Merseyside businesses and was extremely successful in enhancing leadership skills and organisational growth. The LEAD programme was one of six ULMS Impact Cases all of which were rated 3* or 4* in the recent REF exercise. CEEL’s Growth Catalyst Programme provides extended leadership training (10 months) for the owner-managers of small firms within Greater Merseyside. So far, Growth Catalyst has been delivered to 50 small firms and a new programme for over 60 participants will be delivered from May 2016 to June 2018.
CEEL staff have been responsible for a number of other projects designed to support smaller firms. For example, establishing and managing the Northern Leadership Academy (NLA) portal which promoted the importance of leadership in smaller firms. CEEL staff were involved in a project known as IDEAS (innovation, design, entrepreneurship and science), which was a joint initiative with Manchester Business School and Lancaster University Management School to support small high-technology businesses based on Daresbury Science and Innovation Campus (DSIC). As part of this project, CEEL staff participated in an initiative for UKTI to promote international R&D collaborations for small technology-based firms in the Northwest.
The Agility Centre
Since it was established in 2000, the Agility and Supply Chain Management Centre (ASCMC) has worked with more than 160 small firms in the North West and Merseyside Region. The focus has been on developing relevant techniques to help smaller firms thrive in changing environments without compromising either cost or quality. The centre also provides a number of workshops that are only available to small firms, allowing them to turn academic knowledge into techniques that can be applied within their own business. They also undertake many longer Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) with small businesses.
Collaborate to Innovate (C2i) was a novel partnership formed between ULMS and Agile Business Solutions in order to provide assistance to SMEs in the North West region. The basic premise of the C2i Project is that the process of innovation is not solely performed internally within an SME, but is best performed in a co-operative mode with other external organisations. C2i develop networks of within-sector and cross-sector, high-growth industrial NW SMEs and facilitate the design and implementation of productive collaborative projects within and across these networks. For C2i the headline output figures were: 64 business assists, 45 jobs created and 145 jobs safeguarded.
The Agility Centre is currently involved in a number of funding bids with industry partners including the recently announced H2020 RISE project on food supply chains. The Agility Centre also contributed an impact case to the 2014 REF exercise and was the subject of a recently published case report by UK HEIU who selected Agility Centre as one of the cases for Universities for Europe.
As well as assisting SMEs we believe that equipping our students with the skills and experience required when considering starting a business is vital and the school teaches numerous modules and programmes at both undergraduate and postgraduate level to ensure this, including:
- UG module, Entrepreneurship, which is run in partnership with both Young Enterprise and HSBC Plc and sponsorship has been obtained from UKTI and Old Mutual Wealth. Students from numerous Humanities disciplines form businesses and trade for a period of at least ten weeks. The mentoring of students throughout this module is provided by a team of experienced and successful business owners and is taught by a previous entrepreneur turned academic. 480 students studied for this module and in 2015/16 with numbers increasing to 650 for the upcoming academic year.
- Final year undergraduates study a module entitled Advanced Entrepreneurship. This module is aimed at those students that have an interest in developing their own entrepreneurial ideas and turning them into a concrete business plan and is focused on ‘action-learning’ in which the students work, in small groups, on a business simulation (SimVenture).
- A final year Social Enterprise module requires students to work directly with our local social enterprise neighbours to help them strengthen their enterprise in many different bespoke ways. This reflects the ULMS commitment to ethical practices and social engagement.
- The postgraduate MSc Entrepreneurship programme attracts existing entrepreneurs, family business owners and nascent entrepreneurs from many countries. The programme provides both a theoretical and practical understanding of entrepreneurship which equips graduates with the necessary experience, knowledge and confidence to become effective leaders with a clear understanding of how to apply entrepreneurial principles.
- In Entrepreneurial Finance students worked with the founder of The Liverpool Pound http://liverpool-pound.org/. In 2015/16 and launched live crowd funding campaigns to help raise funds for Bradbury Fields, a local charity providing support for blind and partially sighted people. Others chose to fundraise for student’s own start up projects.
- Entrepreneurial Marketing students work on either their own business or with a local SME to help improve the marketing position of that business. Recent successful projects have included working with local businesses; Magic Shop, Now You See Me, Daffna’s Cheesecake, Bold Street Sweets, Issy Melody, Spark Up, Gemwaith Jewellery, Mister Drinkster and Just Juices.
We also believe that opportunities to explore entrepreneurial ideas should be available to students outside of their core curriculum and have a number of initiatives to support this, including:
- Encouraging students to enter the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards which aims to support and encourage university students to pursue their business ideas. The competition is open to students from 66 UK universities. In 2014 ULMS MBA graduate Rahul Pushp won a prize of £20,000 with his business plan to provide electricity to developing countries by harnessing solar renewable energy.
- Liverpool Entrepreneurs Network Society [LENS] is a supported student society where students with entrepreneurial intentions congregate and help develop early vague ideas into feasible start-up initiatives.
- ULMS is an active participant in the IBM Universities Business Challenge where students compete to run a series of realistic, simulated businesses. Split over 3 rounds, a UoL team reached the semi-finals in 2013 and in 2014 the ULMS entered 3 teams (5 students per team).
- ENACTUS is an internationally celebrated society that encourages student teams to solve problems faced both locally and internationally. Numerous competitions exist for teams to battle it out with other university ENACTUS teams.
- YES Competitions are available to research and post-doctoral students are supported by our experts to develop these highly engaging student teams to ‘pitch’ their ideas to a panel of investors. We have had winners and finalists in Biotechnology YES, Environment YES, and Biomedical YES over the past few years.
- A new role of APVC Enterprise was created in 2016 to streamline and map all the student and staff enterprise interests so as to celebrate the entrepreneurial culture of UoL.
- Our Enterprise Coordinator has built a varied menu of opportunities for staff and students to receive coaching and other support services for start-ups and social enterprises.
As a research-intensive university, knowledge creation is central to everything we do and is crucially important to our work with entrepreneurs and owner-managers. The Entrepreneurship and Small Business Management (E&SBM) Knowledge Platform (KP) is one of the largest in ULMS with 24 members giving the group a cross-disciplinary focus. There are a number of objectives associated with the KP including engagement with the small business community. Key personnel in the E&SBM Knowledge Platform include Professor Ossie Jones, Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurial Leadership (CEEL) and Dr Hossein Sharifi, Director of the Agility and Supply Chain Management Centre.
Director, Allison Bacher said “We value the continued support from Graduate to Merseyside as we develop our team here in Liverpool. Not only has it enabled us to find quality, motivated young people, but also introduced us to a number of academics within the Management School, strengthening our relationship with the university.”
Chief Technical Officer, Jon Davies said “Talent is the lifeblood of a technology business like Wranx so having a resource like Graduate to Merseyside on our doorstep is invaluable. Chloe is a fantastic addition to our team and demonstrates a mix of tenacity and creativity that is really going to help drive our growth.”