Our editor, Helen Sanderson, kicked off this years Business Hours’ with a visit to The University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) who were the top university in the north of England for producing start-up businesses in 2021
Through the Propeller Student Enterprise Service, UCLan has given formal business and enterprise support to 851 new businesses, including sole traders, in the last six years. These companies have been created by students and recent graduates, who have received expert help within two years of finishing their academic studies.
The success means UCLan is placed fifth overall in Tides recently published list of UK higher education providers.
Professor Graham Baldwin, UCLan Vice-Chancellor, explained: “To be ranked number one in the whole of the north of England for the number of student start-up businesses we’ve helped is absolutely fantastic news.
“Some of the most innovative and bold ideas come out of universities and these are the places where the entrepreneurs of tomorrow can hone their business acumen. I’m delighted our wide range of business support has helped so many business start-ups flourish.
“Our commitment to establishing ourselves as a national leader in enterprise is embedded in our strategic priorities and this news means we know what we’re doing is working well and we can continue to build on that.”
UCLan has a dedicated team working with students to help set up their own businesses, as well as offering support throughout the first three years of trading. Propeller Student Enterprise Service offers skills workshops, online resources, one-to-one support from business mentors, and interaction with a community of local businesses who work from the Propeller Hub, based in UCLan’s Media Factory.
Professor Sue Smith, Director of UCLan’s Centre for SME Development, commented: “We pride ourselves on offering so many business opportunities to our students, staff, graduates, and members of our Centre for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises.
“We work closely with sole traders, limited companies, co-operatives, social enterprises, freelancers, community interest groups, charities, not-for-profits and more to ensure they have the key skills to not only start a business but to continue trading.
“To know we’ve helped so many make that big leap to becoming their own boss is amazing and I know we’re looking forward to working with many more in the future.”
UCLan also made the list for the number of graduates who have secured patents, meaning their intellectual property is protected. The University was ranked 34th with 63 graduates filing patents by, or on behalf of, UCLan in the UK and overseas.
As we move in 2022 UCLan has launched the first Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) scheme. Seven business leaders have been chosen to become the first EIR at UCLan.
The successful businesspeople will bring real-world expertise and entrepreneurial practice to students, academics and the small and medium-sized enterprises (SME) who get support from UCLan’s Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise (LSBE).
The chosen seven are: Pam Steed, Managing Director of Monarch Personnel Group Ltd; Andy Gullick, Chief Executive of RIFT Social Enterprise; Glen Higson, Founder and Managing Director of Business Insight 3 Ltd; Michelle Bondesio, Business Coach, Consultant, Writer and Podcaster at Growth Sessions/Bondesio C&C; Rupert Gatty, Founder and Chief Executive Officer of CoolKit Limited; Russell Hogarth, who ran his own companies for 25 years before retiring, and Joanne Boyd, Managing Director of CJX Business Services.
Joanne, who already works with UCLan’s Digitalplus to provide impartial advice and support to Lancashire SMEs, said: “As a business owner of an SME in Lancashire I am both delighted and honoured to be to be invited by UCLan to become a member of their new Entrepreneurs in Residence network.”
Each EIR will choose what support they will offer, but options will include mentoring students, guest lecturing, hosting student placements, sitting on advisory panels, contributing to curriculum reviews, and supporting academic research. They will also be able to take part at ‘Ask the expert’ sessions and career and employer events.
Rupert, whose multi-award-winning company is the UK’s largest manufacturer of refrigerated vans, commented: “It is a great honour to be nominated to join the Entrepreneurs in Residence at UCLan’s Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise. The Business School has a great reputation for student start-ups, and I look forward to working with the next generation of business owners.
“I received great support from universities when growing my business CoolKit and so I am here to help the next generation as much as I can to unlock their true potential. I’m looking forward to supporting students with their own journeys and I can’t wait to hear their great ideas as part of the wider support that makes them a reality.”
The group was selected by a panel after nominations were submitted by LSBE staff. The EIR network will be coordinated by the award-winning UCLan Centre for SME Development, a free network for the region’s SMEs.
Professor Sue Smith, Chair of UCLan’s Centre for SME Development, commented: “This helps us to continue to strengthen our links with SMEs, drawing on the expertise of our Entrepreneurs in Residence for the benefit of the University and the region.”
Professor Chris Pyke, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Business and Justice, added: “This provides a great opportunity for our staff, students and graduates to receive even more enterprising support from the Lancashire School of Business and Enterprise.”