5 top tips for winning a National Enterprise Educators Award

Written by Neil Coles


My early career was spent delivering and evaluating several structural funded entrepreneurship support programmes, including a multi stakeholder festival of innovation and a business acceleration service across South Wales. I went on to hold research and student enterprise roles, including leading a partnership between several HEIs.  In 2010, after a sustained period of personal development I became a qualified teacher, at this point I expected to be moving on to something new, but something else was bubbling.  I began to understand myself as an enterprise educator.  I had directly supported many students and led start up services, but…. I thought…. what if pedagogies for enterprise could be driven through the curriculum?

This question now feels a little academic, but that was before EEUK Honorary Fellow, Andy Penaluna drove the first edition of the QAA guidance into being in 2012 (the updated 2018 version can be found here).  Using my knowledge and the QAA documentation I went on to enhance the pedagogic underpinning of 25 units with innovation, enterprise and live projects from businesses, charities, and government at Cardiff University.

I was proud of the impact I was making, but we enterprise educators sometimes struggle with getting noticed don’t we? It is no one’s fault, as what we do usually becomes part of a bigger story. Sometimes to enhance your reputation (and by default that of the institutions) you or a trusted colleague need to stand up and say something.  In 2013 I applied to the National Enterprise Educator Awards to ensure line management understood my emerging project’s value, which I was pleased to see in my annual appraisal they did. However, winning the Award moved it beyond the appraisal discussion, to one where I was congratulated by the PVC Education and Registrar, it allowed me to discuss the project with the VC and led to an internal recognition award.

The biggest thing for me was that the ‘enterprise through the curriculum’ and ‘A-Z of enterprise in the curriculum’ projects were being noticed internally and that was good for enterprise education.   Career-wise for me it led me on to higher roles at the University of Bristol.  In 2018 the University of Bristol’s Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship joined the ranks as recipient, again elevating the standing of enterprise in an institution.

The National Enterprise Educator Awards celebrate and champion the diverse work of enterprise and entrepreneurship educators and practitioners, but recognition aside, merely applying for the awards or helping colleagues to be nominated brings a multitude of personal career benefits. Putting together the application can help with reflection and career progress.  It may push you or your colleagues to become more competitive to enhance your offer and will be useful as part of annual appraisal.

My 5 top tips on putting an application together.

  1. Think carefully about which Award the project is best aligned. There are now four new categories, read all the information and the judging criteria.
  2. Identify the project’s strengths. Be clear about the added value the project offers.  What do you believe maybe a little better than your category competitors?
  3. Keep an eye on the Additional Award Categories. The Inclusive Award will be drawn from all applications and People’s Choice will go to public vote (how could it be framed for getting biggest impact if you are asked to submit a video).
  4. Demonstrate your claims. Talk is cheap.  You must aim to stand out.  Be sure you answer all parts of the application rather than just the parts you feel you most align with.
  5. Write it in plain English and keep it simple.


I became a Director of Enterprise Educators UK in 2017, moving to an executive role in 2018.  I would not have joined the Board or connected with so many change makers in our field without the Award.  It has enabled my career over several years, so I must thank current sponsors SimVenture Business Simulations and Simply Do Ideas, and say to you, there is brilliance in our community – go out and shout about it!

If you are interested in applying or nominating someone click here to start the application. Deadline June 15th

Neil Coles

Director of Enterprise Educators UK

External Partnerships Manager, (Centre for Innovation and Entrepreneurship), University of Bristol