How entrepreneurship is shaping the UK’s society, economy and culture.

 

Our latest project, Start-up: a story, celebrates the graduates who are turning their business idea into reality. With economic growth high on the national agenda and employment rates under scrutiny, universities and their graduates have a central role to play in realising Government ambitions.

The scale and support for graduate enterprise is growing. Appetite among the student body continues to increase. Universities are expanding their enterprise education and support, and Alliance universities are leading the way. Turnover from graduate start-ups has doubledfrom 2008-2010 to over £270m, with turnover from Alliance university start-ups accounting for more than half of the total.

It can be difficult to get a handle on what this actually looks like for universities, graduates and their businesses, which is where our start-up stories come in. They give a rich insight into the realities of starting up, the innovative and meaningful ways universities are supporting graduate enterprise and the important contribution of our graduates and universities to society and the economy.

Tapping into essential knowledge

Hinesh Mistry, one of the graduates featured, describes the transformative role his university continues to have in the success of his product design company, THAT Creative. “We couldn’t have figured out how to set up our business properly without help of the Activ8 scheme at the University of Huddersfield. They showed us how to write a business plan; how to form a partnership – with all the legal advice to make sure it was set up properly; they gave us office space, networking opportunities with other start-ups and some initial funding.

“It’s such a wealth of knowledge and experience to tap into. In DIY they say you should know a plumber, an electrician and a builder; if you are starting up a business, I say you should know a lawyer, an accountant and a business adviser. Even better if you can get all of them free through your university.”

Although London and the South East are often perceived to be a magnet for businesses and talent, these stories highlight how our universities are enabling graduates to start and grow their businesses in every region across the UK. In the North East, the pipeline of talent at Teesside University has been key to enabling Anthony Borsumato to start and grow his business, 13 strides – a sports digital agency, in his home town of Middlesbrough. He now employs 6 other Teesside graduates and has worked on projects including the digital home of Channel 4 Paralympics.

“We need to see a cultural shift”

Entrepreneurial graduates are a huge driving force for innovation, employment and economic growth. Our universities are fully committed to ensuring all students and graduates have the opportunity to turn their idea into a reality and we will continue to work with Government, business and others to help make this happen as more can be done.

Universities should be key partners when developing Government schemes such as Start-Up Loans and the new national fund for local enterprise to ensure that those who would benefit from that support are better able to do so. Overall, we need to see a cultural shift integrating entrepreneurship into the wider employment narrative or we risk failing to realise the full potential of the graduate workforce.

University Alliance is a non-partisan, non-political organisation working to promote, safeguard and sustain the public benefit delivered by universities on behalf of our members.