business

Helping Students Become Entrepreneurs

Britain is setting up a University Enterprise Network to nurture homegrown tech experts capable of creating the next Google or Facebook

The government is establishing a series of University Enterprise Networks (UENs) in the hope of nurturing a crop of homegrown tech entrepreneurs capable of creating the next Google or Facebook.

The Department for Business, Enterprise and Regulatory Reform (Berr) has announced the launch of three UENs—including one focusing on science, technology, engineering, maths (the so-called Stem subjects), and another one more broadly focused on innovation and the application of web-based technologies. A third aims to serve the nuclear sector.

Berr said the UENs will enable a total of around 100,000 students and graduates to get the chance to develop their skills as entrepreneurs and business leaders by providing training, advice and encouragement to help develop their business ideas.

Shriti Vadera, minister for economic competitiveness and small business, said boosting graduates' business savvy is key to ensuring the UK's long term competitiveness.

The networks are being sponsored by companies from the private sector—including BT, Cisco, HP and Microsoft—which the government says will help budding innovators gain first hand experience of "enterprising workplaces" as the companies will be involved in designing and delivering coursework and activities.

The first universities to express an interest in principle commitment to the Stem UEN are Cambridge, Cranfield, Hertfordshire, Oxford, Reading and Southampton, while Coventry University is supporting the Innovation UEN.

The creation of the UENs follows a commitment made by the government in its Enterprise Strategy to further promote and support the development of enterprise.

A Microsoft-commissioned survey found only just over a quarter (28 per cent) of students believe their time at university prepared them for being an entrepreneur, while almost half (48 per cent) believe their degree would be worth more if it equipped them with the skills to start their own business.

The survey also found more than half (57 per cent) of university students believe the technology sector would be a good industry for pursuing an entrepreneurial career.

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