Enterprise Education: The future of education at The University of Edinburgh

Photograph of a group of students, all in blue

In this post, Dora celebrates the University’s success in nurturing student start-ups, and underscores its dedication to fostering entrepreneurship by embedding enterprise within the curriculum. Dora Handrea is a Lead Enterprise Executive at Edinburgh Innovations (EI)↗️, The University of Edinburgh. This post belongs to Teaching Matters’ Learning & Teaching Enhancement theme: Embedding enterprise in the curriculum↗️.

Embedding enterprise in the curriculum is no easy feat for traditional academic institutions. As a Russel Group University, The University of Edinburgh has reached a tipping point. As a team, our ambition is to generate outstanding education for students, increase our impact and create a greater alignment with the University’s strategic priorities. This will ensure that students will find it easier to tailor and complete their degree as a foundation for future learning, competencies and ethical global citizenship amongst others.

I hope that the ‘Embedding enterprise in the curriculum’ series of blog posts↗️ offers you a thorough perspective of the benefits of embedding enterprise in the curriculum↗️ from both a student and academic perspective. I do not aim to repeat those well-made points, but rather to expand on the enterprise context within Scotland and beyond. Christina Starko and I hope that this thorough perspective will encourage teaching staff to get in touch with us to explore collaboration opportunities. However, if you would like to explore more case studies, please take a look at our website↗️.

International education trends highlight the benefits of enterprise education. A good example of this is the European Entrepreneurship Competence Framework↗️ (EntreComp), developed by the European Commission. This is a reference framework to explain what is meant by an entrepreneurial mindset. The framework offers a thorough illustration of the knowledge, skills and attitudes that students need to be entrepreneurial and create financial, cultural or social value for others.

At a national level, the Scottish Government appointed the country’s first Chief Entrepreneur Officer↗️, Mark Logan as part of the commitment to the National Strategy for Economic Transformation (NSET). His role is focused on delivering the NSET recommendations on entrepreneurship, and the remaining recommendations of the Scottish Tech Ecosystem Review (STER)↗️. The report has an entire section on education, drawing a simple correlation between young people learning skills such as programming and entrepreneurship for a national transformation of upskilling development.

Furthermore, I could not finish this article without mentioning the more recent Entrepreneurial Campus report↗️ authored by Ross Tuffee and Prof Joe Little. You will be able to find the article here the report, now adopted as policy by the Scottish Government, provides a blueprint for Scottish Universities and Colleges to catalyse entrepreneurship and regional economic growth. Going forward, Entrepreneurial campuses will also serve as a vital link between academia and industry, creating new opportunities for knowledge transfer and collaboration. This highlights once again that entrepreneurship is one of the most exciting and supported strategies of start-up and economic development by the Government, agencies and founders.

Up until before the COVID19 pandemic, the Student Enterprise Team’s focus was on providing extra-curricular support. This included one-to-one meetings with a business adviser, competitions, workshops and accelerator programmes. More recently, we have prioritised and increased our capacity to support the embedding of enterprise in the curriculum. This includes one-to-one support for teaching staff, guest lectures, access to resources and case studies, thorough enterprise integration in the curriculum and a community of practice. We are one of the very few universities in the UK able to provide this level of support.

We are at the stage where we can build on the success of our extra-curricular activities. This success story has placed the University of Edinburgh as number one in Scotland and the Russel Group Universities for the number of student start-ups created for 2021-2022. That year, the Student Enterprise Team supported the creation of 105 start-ups. For the same year, founders secured £2M of grants and funding and £30M of investment. These are numbers to be proud of.

I am a firm believer that enterprise creates the means for our students to achieve excellence through ambitious and bold actions. Enterprise fosters a welcoming community where internationalism is celebrated. It attracts the world’s best minds to build innovative projects and create start-ups.

It is now time to deliver on local, national and global impact for the benefit of our students, staff and wider society. Join us in embedding enterprise in the curriculum today↗️.

Photograph of the author DoraDora Handrea

As Lead Enterprise Executive at Edinburgh Innovations (EI)↗️, The University of Edinburgh, Dora is a keen supporter of change makers and a connector of ideas. She is responsible for enterprise activities and education – working with the EI team to ensure that the University’s enterprise provision continues to be world-leading. She supports provision of the best training, workshops and education for founders and innovators.

Passionate about Student Enterprise, Dora works to forge new partnerships and collaborations for the benefit of student founders. She is interested in equality, diversity and inclusion; technology; and sustainability within the enterprise sector.

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