Looking beyond the ‘triple crown’ of enterprise education

I’m conscious that the ‘triple crown’ of enterprise education only exists in my mind. But, since when has that stopped me from expressing a view!

The ‘triple crown’ I speak of is not that of rugby union, but the Enterprise Alliance UK, which seeks to make a strong case for enterprising learning and practical development for all students in UK higher education. It was founded by Enterprise Educators UK, Institute for Small Business & Entrepreneurship (ISBE) and National Consortium of University Entrepreneurs (NACUE) in 2010. All are membership-based organisations and contribute to the enterprise education debate in different ways and from different perspectives – educators, researchers, practitioners and students.

What can universities do to support the Enterprise Alliance UK? At the Leeds Enterprise Centre, we have decided to support it in a very practical way. By funding each organisation to develop their own unique contribution. We are an institutional member of Enterprise Educators, a university partner of NACUE and a high-level sponsor for the ISBE conference 2011. Not only does this help the organisations directly, it also facilitates the involvement of all the staff at the Leeds Enterprise Centre.

But, there is still one jewel missing from my crown. That of ‘enterprises’ – the entrepreneurs and business owners who want to support enterprise education and the development of entrepreneurial skills both of students and themselves. I can see lots of associations, clubs and networks but none are quite what I’m looking for.

We have created our little gem at the University of Leeds. A small but select group of entrepreneurs who have agreed to provide students with ‘real world’ experiences, which can help them to understand how their enterprise education fits with a wider perspective of business. The contribution of these Enterprise Ambassadors to our learning & teaching and business start-up support programmes are invaluable in developing the entrepreneurial spirit in our students and gives students a chance to develop ‘enterprise’ skills above and beyond their University education.

We are also ‘doing our bit’ for entrepreneurs by helping to deliver the Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses initiative in Yorkshire.

If you see any rough diamonds that could be shaped into my missing jewel do let me know!

Prof Nigel Lockett FRSA