Can you teach enterprise?

Here in lies an age-old question.

Well, according to Enterprise Educators UK, it’s a resounding YES. But, then again they would say this, they are the UK’s largest network for enterprise educators representing more than 600 enterprise education professionals. Their purpose is to support their members to “increase the scale, scope and effectiveness of enterprise and entrepreneurship teaching within their organisations.”

Again, Babson College, probably the world’s leading proponent of entrepreneurship education, says YES. In fact, they have made a business out of educating the educators! They provide annual Symposia for Entrepreneurship Educators, held for the first time in Europe in 2008. I should know – I joined the international cohort at University of St. Gallen in Switzerland. On graduation, we joined the 1,500 alumni of educators.

Perhaps not surprisingly, in the past the UK Government has been strong supporter of enterprise education – both at schools and universities. The previous administration founded the National Council of Graduate Entrepreneurship, who provide a range of programmes to support and encourage enterprise in universities. More recently, students have taken matters into their own hands. The inspirational Victoria Lennox founded the National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs in 2008 as a national organisation to support and represent university enterprise societies and student entrepreneurs in the UK.

So, can you teach enterprise?

Yes, I think you can! Closer to home, in Leeds, we have developed a university-wide initiative to do just this. The Leeds Enterprise Centre, is the focal point for enterprise education on the university campus. Our aim is to provide exceptional research-led enterprise teaching and related activities from our staff, associates, enterprise ambassadors, student interns and visitors. Launched last week, on 7th October 2010, it will provide enterprise modules ranging from ‘Creativity & Innovation in Business’ through ‘Financing for Social Enterprise’ to ‘Social Networking for Enterprise Creation’, to both undergraduate and postgraduate students. It will also provide access to new venture creation support, like the award winning SPARK.

And finally, what is the new coalition government saying? I simply don’t know. There is nothing on the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS) or Cabinet Office web sites. Perhaps we will know more after the ‘Comprehensive Spending Review’ on Wednesday 20 October or maybe not …

STOP PRESS 15th October 2010

Seems that Goldman Sachs think you can teach enterprise  too. But not just to students but entrepreneurs as well. It’s good to be involved in this innovative business growth programme and have already met the fabulous 25 people on the first cohort. Programme starts in earnest today. What this space …

Prof Nigel Lockett FRSA

Professor of Enterprise
President of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship