Sustainable entrepreneurship and green skills – get on board!

Written by Inge Hill


Sustainable entrepreneurship and green skills – get on board! 

Recently, I was interviewed for a parliamentary POST-note on ‘green skills in education and employment’. The Future-of-work needs us to be able to come up with more environmentally friendly solutions to problems! How we achieve this refocusing, is what many of us are working on.

For me this means, to integrate Sustainable Development Goals and other sustainability topics into all my teaching and, in particular, my start-up support. The above link to my blog outlines my experiences over the last four years, and how I learned from my students HOW to create examples for entrepreneurship education with case studies.

Hence, I revisited case studies and updated a recent book chapter with another former EE UK Director Dr Jonathan Scott (Hill and Scott, 2024) and wrote about SDGs and circular economy. I am passionate about our need to teach entrepreneurship with the solutions in mind and present role models on how some businesses have been operating in line with the SDG targets for a while or how they changed their resourcing to be more environmentally friendly to inspire new start-ups. The four case studies are international from Sweden to Germany and the UK and illustrate how operating sustainably does not have to be more expensive!

Here are my three top tips to inspire learners to think and act more sustainability focused:

1          Present role models that are touchable and imitable!

2          Offer case studies that present examples of different ways of thinking and acting sustainably!

If you would like the case studies from (Hill and Scott, 2024) email me and I will send them.

3          Co-create ways of learning with learners that suit their learning styles and engage them in learning material creation where and when you can.

Never give up! When you see the well-known lamp light up over students’ headsand their faces show the ‘aha effect’, you have won! Each change of mind and sustainable business idea is a contribution to achieving the SDGs! We can do it!

After 7 years as Director on the board of Enterprise Educators UK I would like to thank you Associates, passionate fellow educators, support professionals in enterprise centres, for your commitment, passion and dedication! You are great!

I have to come to the end of my board period and do not want to miss a minute serving you. I have enjoyed my time!

Keep up the great work and keep coming to our events, the conference and the committees where you can influence the work of EE UK!

Wishing you a great 2024 and beyond

Inge Hill, PhD
The Open University
EntreComp Champion 2023
EE UK Fellow (the first six pioneers)

Ideas and Opportunities

Written by Alison Price

Post Election, EEUK is looks forward to hearing the details behind the manifesto promises.

With many looking for a new model for HE, picking up on issues across the sector as well as ones that impact our work directly, such as visa issues.

EEUK is seeking a vision and long-term commitment which might with the call from  The Entrepreneurs Network and YBI (Youth Business International (June 2023) for enterprise education in schools (Empowering the Future) based on their previous work as to “what applied learning really looks like” (Jan 2023). This calls for under-18s to be able open business bank accounts without credit facilities to help them separate personal and business finances from a young age, as well as calling for transversal skills to be the key (which EntreComp is) seeking that essential skills that necessary to be entrepreneurial are embedded across the curriculum from primary school/

Ensuring the education system is “fit for an entrepreneur” is a message also being heralded across Wales, with the launch of their new resources for schools which draws upon competency-based questioning as progression points and shares links to additional resources

Wales has also announced that CTER will Medr (when established in August to replace Higher Education Funding Council for Wales.) which is Welsh for “skill” or ability.

This connects with the launch of the launch of the 2018 QAA UK Quality Code which outlines 12 sector-agreed Principles for academic standards, as this has been uniquely designed to apply to all post-secondary providers (to align with changes in Wales and Scotland – as @WONKHE suggest possibly, anticipating a future need in England.

At the other end of our educational pipeline, the HESA data is out, sharing the story of our graduates as freelancers and business starts with “graduates running own business, self-employed/freelancing or developing a portfolio by domicile – Academic years 2017/18 to 2021/22” as well over 21,000  (Figure 8). Have a read of “What do graduates do” which shows, that in government data for broadly the same period, which shows that English graduates were earning £11,500 more a year than non-graduates.  This links to last month’s blog discussions and a King’s College report,  which emphasised the benefit of having a degree, by highlighting the high esteem in which a UK education is held. This month, LEO datas shows from the latest (2021/22) data on graduate earnings and employment that for first degree graduates, median earnings five years after graduation reached £29,900.

All of which helps us understand our students and graduates better – it seems that we can be inspired as research (tomorrow’s entrepreneurs). with entrepreneurs under the age of 35 show that they are more than twice as likely to say their business’ primary aim is to solve a social or environmental problem than older entrepreneurs.

The future is bright – see you at IEEC Belfast 2024 to explore it all in detail!


Written by Lynn O'Byrne

Leeds Beckett: New partnership launched to boost sustainability of start-ups
Business experts at Leeds Beckett University have teamed up with marketing agency, GOLD79, in a new partnership to boost the long-term growth and sustainability of start-up businesses across the UK. A new programme – GOLD79 MINE – has been launched as a collaboration between Leeds Business School at Leeds Beckett and GOLD79. The programme will support talented and entrepreneurial individuals – including students and graduates of the university – who want to start their own businesses through academic consultancy, expert business support services, mentoring, networking, business infrastructure and financial support.
Read more about the new programme on the Leeds Beckett website.

 UWTSD: Welsh SME’s Address SDG16
At Learned Society of Wales’ Early Research Career Colloquium 2024, Bangor University, HES (Dr Felicity Healey-Benson and Professor David A Kirby) launched a bilingual booklet featuring 10 Welsh SMEs addressing SDG 16 through Harmonious Entrepreneurship.


Key Features:

  • Diverse Welsh SMEs exemplifying Harmonious Entrepreneurship
  • Alignment with global SDG 16 and Wales’ Well-being Goals
  • Inspiring stories of Welsh ventures promoting peace activism
  • Creative business models tackling social and environmental challenges

The booklet is a resource for businesses, educators, students, and policymakers, showcasing ethical and sustainable practices. HES extends gratitude to its distinguished foreword contributors. Cymraeg       English

MTU: HEI Green Champions
We are searching for HEI green champions in institutions that would like to test the indicators of the GET-AHED sustainability self-assessment tool sometime between mid-September and mid-October – online and totally flexibly with a total duration of around 20-40 minutes. Interested institutions are invited to reach out to for further information. More information on the project can be found here and you can sign up for our newsletter here.

ARU: Social Spark x Anglia Ruskin Enterprise Academy: Empowering Future Social Entrepreneurs
Since September 2023, Social Spark provided ARU students the opportunity to contribute to creating a healthier and more equitable future for people in Basildon. Partnering with Mid and South Essex Foundation Trust, this initiative tackled pressing health and care challenges faced by the local community. Students supported by the Anglia Ruskin Enterprise Academy have embraced the chance to create social enterprises focused on family nutrition, art-based wellbeing, and more. Through workshops, mentoring, and valuable connections, they have developed innovative ideas with real social impact. The initiative concluded with a big celebration in June 2024 by showcasing the students’ ingenious contributions.

LJMU: Startup Team Celebrates 20 years of supporting entrepreneurs
LJMU’s  offer for student entrepreneurs began in 2004 with ambitious plans to create viable start up companies. This has always been the objective of the team, which sits outside the curriculum but the heart of the student experience at LJMU. Now operating as the Start-Up Hub, the team celebrated this important milestone by inviting 20 entrepreneurs to tell their stories. The resulting publication can be found here. Tom Strodtbeck, LJMU’s Entrepreneurship Consultant commented: “LJMU continues to produce an incredible array of entrepreneurs, working in the arts, sciences, professional services and more. And as most of our entrepreneurs set up businesses in the Liverpool City Region, we will see both their economic and social impact, as they grow into the next generation of civic leaders.”

MMU: Associate Member Publishes Paper
This international systematic literature is relevant to EEUK members because it includes findings from around the world on the link between different types of mentoring in higher education and student career development including for example, entrepreneurial skills, intentions, engagement and business start-up survival. Nabi, G., Walmsley, A., Mir, M.  & Osman, S. (2024): The impact of mentoring in higher education on student career development: a systematic review and research agenda. Studies in Higher Education. Early release.

Northumbria: Global Survey on Academic Work
EEUK Director, Vicky Mountford-Brown is working as part of a global research group led by Professor Inger Mewburn, Director of Researcher Development at The Australian National University and perhaps more famously known as ‘The Thesis Whisperer’ The group are exploring academic work and hoping to get a strong global representation in the responses.  Please consider completing this survey and passing on to others in your networks within and beyond ISBE:

 Nottingham: Double your Price
Professor David Falzani of Nottingham University Business School has had his book, Double Your Price, shortlisted as a finalist for the prestigious Business Book of the Year Award 2024. Grounded in 25 years’ experience of training, mentoring, starting and growing companies, the book addressees the emotional turmoil managers feel when faced with the all-important pricing decisions. With a foreword written by Lord Sainsbury, the book includes key tools and a range of 10 exercises for business managers, owners, students, and entrepreneurs looking to enhance their pricing strategies and foster a value-seeking culture. The winning book will be announced in September. 


Exeter celebrates student entrepreneurs at annual awards
The University of Exeter celebrated another successful year of student startups and innovation at the Student Entrepreneurship Awards. The event celebrated student entrepreneurship activities delivered across the University, including the Student Startups programmes, the With Proficiency in Entrepreneurship degree pathway and the Engineering and Entrepreneurship degree programme. Six exceptional individuals were recognised for their achievements on the Student Startups programmes this year. Attendees also heard from student, Mattia Vancini, who won an award at last year’s event and gave a keynote speech sharing his journey exploring entrepreneurship. Read more.

Durham: New National Social Enterprise Competition for Students & Graduates
Durham University has partnered with the Ford Family Foundation to launch Ignite, a new funding competition supporting social enterprises emerging from higher education. Ignite aims to shine a spotlight on our tremendous social entrepreneurs and will culminate in a pitching event at The Shard in October. The winner will receive a £20,000 grant, with a further £30,000 shared between four other contenders. In addition to funding, prizes also include 1:1 coaching from Cambio Consultancy and I.P. support from Mathys & Squire. Deadline for entries has been extended until 31st July via the Ignite website

Policy not Politics

Written by Alison Price

With a general election underway, we want to focus on policy, rather than politics but working at the intersection of major policy areas, many enterprise educators continue their call for long term direction and clarity, whilst the financial constraints/staff changes across the sector make planning uncertain.

However, against this turbulent backdrop, the latest UUK research  (using LEO data) shows conclusively it is “worth getting a degree” with evidence that becoming a graduate increases earning potential across a life time.  Whilst it is worth noting that this data also shows that the gender pay gap continues, it also serves as reminds that our current students are in a different position to those being tracked in the workforce, having studied through Covid and a cost of living and now a shrinking HE/ funding crisis.  As enterprise educators we might need to understand Why university students “see little point” in attendance (May 2024) as we begin planning our 2024/5 programme especially when the initial findings from the forthcoming (2025) Lilac Review (paywall) show discrimination against disabled entrepreneurs. We need to future proof our offers to support our current students. Such review is also usefully informed by looking internationally at UK graduate outcomes International Graduate Outcomes (May 2024). It calls for improved career support, and as enterprise educators we need to consider our roles in this. The report also calls for more collaboration with employers to ensure skills are embedded in the curriculum, something which our vibrant EntreComp community supports. With further recognition for the diversity within education, the power of alumni and the need to realise the benefits of visa routes. So, plenty to think about as we support our home and international students! And a quick focus on:

Academics: SEDA is seeking your inputs on your use of AI in learning and assessment

Practitioners in Careers: join us for FAST TRACK if enterprise education is new to you!

Influencers: We will be shaping a statement for the new Government, share your concerns

See you at IEEC Belfast 2024

Bringing Generative AI into the Curriculum

Written by Ranjit Das

As educators, we have an imperative to consistently evolve how we teach and assess students to ensure they are developing the future-focused skills required to thrive amid rapid technological change. Generative AI is arguably the most transformative technological shift of our era, and rather than being insulated from it, our learners need to be immersed in these tools and their implications.

That’s why for the upcoming 2024-2025 academic year, I’ll be completely revamping a major case study assignment for my masters module – leading and managing startups. Instead of providing students with a pre-written business case scenario to analyse, they will leverage generative AI like Claude or ChatGPT to design their own original 2500-word case studies from scratch.

The new assignment challenges students to first define the background of a fictitious startup company they envision, including the initial product/service, founding story, and early market traction. They then outline key parameters around two domains where the company would likely face significant scaling challenges as it rapidly grows, such as operations, human resources, leadership, marketing, IT, and more.

Using a generative AI model, students will iteratively refine prompts to have the AI construct a dynamic, contextually rich 2500-word narrative that explores how those escalating scaling challenges could realistically unfold for their hypothetical startup. What bottlenecks might it hit? What risks and constraints must be navigated? What potential solutions and best practices could be implemented?

By driving this entire case study creation process, students gain vital experience in AI prompt engineering – strategically scoping prompts and leveraging an AI’s language abilities to transform that prompt into a nuanced, multi-faceted business narrative. It’s a form of human-AI co-creation that requires continuously refining inputs based on the AI’s outputs.

But the benefits go beyond just procedural experience with generative AI. This revised assignment design synthesises many core pedagogical priorities:

  • Developing critical thinking and problem-solving by having students grapple with open-ended challenges without prescribed resolutions.
  • Promoting self-directed learning as students synthesize domain knowledge to effectively scope and critique their AI-generated case studies.
  • Facilitating more authentic skill application by blending theoretical concepts with dynamic, contextual business scenarios.
  • Nurturing responsible innovation by having students evaluate the AI model’s blind spots and consider ethical implications.
  • Cultivating written and oral communication abilities through crafting well-structured cases and presenting findings

To help prepare students, I’ll provide support in the form of an example case I created using Gen-AI to illustrate well-scoped versus poor case study prompts. There will also be workshop sessions where they get feedback on draft prompts and outputs.

Additionally, the assignment will have built-in points for peer review. Students will share their AI-generated cases, provide and receive feedback on areas that need greater nuance or realism, and have opportunities to further refine their narratives through this iterative critique process.

The final deliverable will involve students presenting a comprehensive rationalization of their case study – the context and plausibility of their fictitious company, the key scaling challenges they chose to focus on, their prompt engineering approach, the AI’s strengths and limitations they had to navigate, ethical considerations around its outputs, and their proposed frameworks for effectively analysing the case.

I’m under no illusion that this revised assessment instantaneously solves all our pedagogy challenges. It’s simply an iterative step in evolving how we mindfully incorporate generative AI’s capabilities into curriculum design for more engaging, higher-order learning experiences. I look forward to getting student feedback and continually refining the approach.

But I am confident that immersing learners in these human-AI co-creation processes is vital for developing core competencies they’ll need. If we want our curricula to remain relevant and prepare graduates for future workforce demands, we must thoughtfully integrate generative AI into assessments and pedagogy. This new case study assignment strives to put that principle into practice in an authentic, purposeful way. I’m excited to pilot it next year and continue adapting our approaches to harness generative AI’s creative potential responsibly.

How will a change in the UK Government affect Enterprise Education in Higher Education?

Written by Dave Bolton

Changes in government can have profound impacts on various sectors, including education. Enterprise education, which focuses on equipping students with entrepreneurial skills and mindsets, is particularly sensitive to policy shifts. As the UK potentially faces a new government, it is crucial to understand how these changes might influence enterprise education within higher education institutions.

1. Policy Priorities and Funding

The priorities of the new government will play a significant role in shaping enterprise education. A government that prioritizes innovation, entrepreneurship, and economic growth is likely to increase funding and support for enterprise education programs. This could manifest in several ways:

  • Increased Funding: More financial resources allocated to universities for developing and expanding enterprise education programs.
  • Grants and Scholarships: Introduction of new grants and scholarships specifically aimed at encouraging students to engage in entrepreneurial activities.
  • Research and Development: Enhanced support for research in entrepreneurial education, leading to more advanced and effective teaching methods.

Conversely, a government with different priorities might reduce funding, making it more challenging for universities to maintain or grow their enterprise education offerings.

2. Regulatory Environment

The regulatory environment established by the new government will also impact enterprise education. Regulations can either facilitate or hinder the development of entrepreneurial skills among students:

  • Ease of Starting a Business: Simplified regulations and reduced bureaucratic hurdles for starting new businesses can encourage more students to pursue entrepreneurial ventures.
  • Intellectual Property Laws: Strong protections for intellectual property can incentivize innovation and entrepreneurship among students and faculty.
  • Immigration Policies: Policies that attract international students and entrepreneurs can enrich the entrepreneurial ecosystem within universities.

A government that promotes a business-friendly regulatory environment can significantly boost enterprise education by making it easier for students to translate their ideas into viable businesses.

3. Curriculum and Pedagogical Approaches

Government policies can influence the curriculum and teaching methods employed in enterprise education. A supportive government might encourage the integration of entrepreneurship across various disciplines and promote experiential learning approaches:

  • Curriculum Integration: Encouraging the inclusion of entrepreneurial courses in diverse academic programs, ensuring that all students have access to enterprise education regardless of their major.
  • Experiential Learning: Promoting hands-on, practical learning experiences such as internships, incubators, and startup competitions.
  • Industry Collaboration: Fostering partnerships between universities and industry to provide students with real-world entrepreneurial experiences and mentorship opportunities.

4. Support for Technology and Innovation

Enterprise education often intersects with technological innovation. A government that prioritizes technological advancement can create a conducive environment for enterprise education:

  • Tech Infrastructure: Investment in technology infrastructure within universities can provide students with the tools they need to innovate and develop new business ideas.
  • Innovation Hubs: Establishing and supporting innovation hubs and technology parks that serve as incubators for student-led startups.
  • Research Grants: Providing grants for research in emerging technologies can spur entrepreneurial ventures in cutting-edge fields.

5. Cultural and Societal Attitudes

Government rhetoric and policies can shape societal attitudes towards entrepreneurship. A government that actively promotes an entrepreneurial culture can inspire more students to consider entrepreneurship as a viable career path:

  • Public Campaigns: Launching campaigns that highlight the importance and benefits of entrepreneurship.
  • Success Stories: Showcasing successful entrepreneurs, particularly those who have emerged from university programs, to inspire current students.
  • Educational Outreach: Engaging with secondary schools to foster an entrepreneurial mindset from a young age, creating a pipeline of future university students interested in enterprise education.


A change in the UK government has the potential to significantly impact enterprise education in higher education institutions. By understanding the possible changes in policy priorities, regulatory environments, curriculum approaches, support for technology and innovation, and cultural attitudes, universities can better prepare for and adapt to these shifts. Ultimately, the goal should be to create an environment that nurtures and supports the entrepreneurial aspirations of students, enabling them to become the innovators and business leaders of tomorrow.


Written by Lynn O'Byrne

Durham: New National Social Enterprise Competition for Students & Graduates

Durham University has partnered with the Ford Family Foundation to launch Ignite, a new funding competition supporting social enterprises emerging from higher education. Ignite aims to shine a spotlight on our tremendous social entrepreneurs and will culminate in a pitching event at The Shard in October. The winner will receive a £20,000 grant, with a further £30,000 shared between four other contenders. In addition to funding, prizes also include 1:1 coaching from Cambio Consultancy and I.P. support from Mathys & Squire. Deadline for entries is 19th July via the Ignite website.

Edinburgh: Grow Awards

The University of Edinburgh celebrates its student entrepreneurs with the annual Inspire, Launch, Grow Awards. During Inspire, Launch Grow, founders pitch their company to an expert panel of judges, competing for a total prize money of £47,000. This year’s keynote speaker and winner of the Entrepreneur of the Year Award was Elena Höge, founder of social gaming company Yaldi Games.At the Inspire Launch Grow – the ‘Oscars of Entrepreneurship’ Professor Sir Peter Mathieson said: We are proud to support a thriving culture of entrepreneurship at the University of Edinburgh, where enterprise is increasingly part of the student experience.

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU): Freelancer Fast-Start Programme

In May, ARU ran an intensive “Freelancer Fast-Start Programme”, supporting 25 final-year students to become “invoice-ready”. Curated to support mindset, skills and ecosystem, the programme covered everything from marketing & brand to legal & tax, and sales and negotiation. There was a focus on real-world application and professional networks to advance the participants’ freelance ventures. The programme culminated in a showcase event and prize giving, with 92% rating the programme highly; 68% intending to register a business within six months, and 36% already engaging potential clients. Participants’ self-rated scores on freelancing knowledge and confidence increased significantly after completing the programme.

Huddersfield: Entrepreneurs: Talent, Temperament, Opportunity and Mindset
The 4th Edition of John Thompson’s textbook, written with the late Bill Bolton – Entrepreneurs: Talent, Temperament, Opportunity and Mindset – has recently been published by Routledge. It is in three parts. The first part dissects the attributes of successful entrepreneurs and allows readers to self-assess, using the authors’ established FACETS framework, and then discusses what is meant by an entrepreneurial mindset – the main addition to this new edition. Part Two concerns the process of entrepreneurship, encompassing starting a business, opportunity and strategy. Part Three comprises over 100 case vignettes separated into “classic”, business, social and culture entrepreneurs (in design, art, music, media and sport) before a final chapter on “entrepreneurs in the shadows” includes some whose business is crime.

Nottingham: YES24

Applications are open for our 29th cohort! Your Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is a competition developed to raise awareness among PhD students, postdocs and technicians how ideas can be commercialised. Taking place this autumn, participants are invited to develop a hypothetical business and pitch their plan to demonstrate that the business could be investable and ultimately successful. This fictional business plan is a great way to learn about entrepreneurship without using an idea that comes out of current research (avoiding any problems with disclosure). Our pitch day hosts are GSK, Syngenta and Campden BRI. Bursaries available. Discover more here; join one of our 30-minute online information sessions or help raise awareness.

Lincoln: Creative Start-up Awards
Oliver Whitehead, founder of Synx Games, has won the Creative Start-Up Award for the Midlands in the Start-Up Awards.As a second-year Computer Science student at the University of Lincoln, Oliver balances his studies with the running of Synx Games, a company that creates servers and content for games such as Roblox and Minecraft.Synx has blossomed in the last year, reaching 100,000 unique players across 2 servers, 15,000 members on their Discord communities with over 4 million unique messages.Oliver has been supported by Student Enterprise, as well as taking up an office at the University’s incubation centre, Sparkhouse.


Written by Lynn O'Byrne

Sheffield: ‘Emerge: Be Enterprising’ programme

The University of Sheffield’s new ‘Emerge: Be Enterprising’ programme held its first Awards Showcase in April, marking a milestone in its mission to capture student entrepreneurship talent across campus.  The programme cultivates a culture of enterprise by recognising innovative business ideas. Sponsored by Santander Universities, #EmergeAwards24 featured ventures tackling social challenges and sustainability. Out of 70+ applications from students, staff and alumni, 4 winners were awarded funding and further mentorship to help launch their business. This injection of resources aims to strengthen Sheffield’s innovation ecosystem, fostering the development of homegrown businesses that will contribute to the city’s economic vibrancy. 

UCL: Ten university startups take part in new UK-Swiss entrepreneurship exchange programme

The programme, run between UCL and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology Lausanne (EPFL), has given ten startups, five from each university, the chance to learn, connect and explore new opportunities.

The startups spent a week together split between Lausanne and London. They received a bespoke introduction to university facilities, laboratories, innovation clusters and key players in their industry. Read more.

Swansea: Founders of the Future

Swansea University collaborates with Anne Boden MBE on the ‘Founders of the Future’ initiative, aiding women-led high-growth enterprises. The UK government taskforce aims to inspire the next generation of female entrepreneurs, emphasizing diversity and inclusion in entrepreneurship. University staff have worked with Anne to promote the taskforce, recently hosting a ‘Founders of the Future’ event at the University. This event featured panel discussions from women in business (including Alumni Joelle Drummond, Founder of Drop Bear Beer) and overcoming adversity, attended by students, staff, and local school children. The project includes case studies highlighting the journeys of women involved in the taskforce and their businesses.

What can enterprise educators learn from innovation coaching?

Written by Professor Marcus O'Dair

Innovation coaching is a relatively niche phenomenon. But one of the companies offering it is Strategyzer. Could it become as ubiquitous in enterprise education as the Business Model Canvas?

What is coaching?

‘Coaching is unlocking people’s potential to maximise their own performance. it is helping them learn rather than teaching them.’ To me, these words encapsulate coaching pretty well. So they should: they come from John Whitmore (2017: 12-13), the man who developed the highly influenced GROW coaching model and who played a huge role in developing the coaching industry in general.

While the terms ‘coaching’ and ‘mentoring’ are sometimes used interchangeably, there are differences in emphasis. Mentors tend to pass on advice, based on their own experiences. They give answers. Coaches, by contrast, ask questions. The idea is to help clients solve their own problems. Knowledge is co-created rather than handed down. Mentoring, I have suggested on my blog, is like learning from Mr Miyagi. Coaching, by contrast, is like learning from Socrates.

What has coaching got to do with enterprise education?
I first came across coaching in the context of enterprise education on a visit to Mondragon University in Bilbao, during which I discovered the Team Academy model of enterprise education. Team Academy in fact originated in Finland. And, thanks to Akatemia, I’ve since had the opportunity to see it in Jyväskylä and Tampere too. I’ve also seen how it has been adapted in the UK, for instance at University of the West of England and Aston University, where I am currently studying for a postgraduate certificate in team coaching.

Team Academy has influenced our approach to enterprise education at my university too, for instance the MA Fashion Entrepreneurship and Innovation at London College of Fashion, with its pedagogy (or heutagogy) of self-determined learning. In fact, the reason I was at Mondragon in the first place is ultimately down to colleagues including former EEUK director Dan Henderson, LCF’s Associate Dean for Enterprise. 

What is innovation coaching?

Innovation coaching – which, to be clear, is also offered by companies other than Strategyzer – is a particular kind of coaching.

I am not talking about coaches known for working in organisations associated with innovation, like Kim Scott, who has coached CEOs at Dropbox and the company then known as Twitter, or the late Bill Campbell, who coached at Google and Apple. While no doubt great coaches, Scott and Campbell are known for working more or less within the standard coaching model – the one kind I learned on my Postgraduate Certificate in executive coaching. This involves working with leaders to improve performance. (The John Whitmore book from which I take my opening quote is actually called Coaching for Performance.)

When I talk about innovation coaching, instead, I am talking about a form of team coaching that focuses on helping teams to generate and test ideas in order to develop new business models and value propositions. While traditional coaching seeks to improve the status quo, in other words, innovation coaching seeks to disrupt it.

Sounds good. How do I learn more?

One reason for the success of the business model canvas is that Alex Osterwalder and his collaborators are very good at visual communication. The canvas, for instance, broke down business models into nine blocks. And Strategyzer have done the same for innovation coaching, which they break into six stages. The first three – ideate, prototype, assess – relate to business design. The idea is to go through these first three stages quickly, perhaps in an hour or two, using tools such as the Business Model Canvas and Value Proposition Canvas. The second three stages – hypothesise, experiment, learn – relate to testing. The idea here is to articulate and then test your assumptions through experiment after experiment.

This all reminds me less of coaching than of Scrum, which shares methodologies like Agile and Lean an emphasis on iteration and adaptation. At the root of Scrum, for co-creator Jeff Sutherland (2019: 9), is this simple idea: ‘Whenever you start a project. why not regularly check in, see if what you’re doing is heading in the right direction, and if it’s actually what people want?’


I know from my time in the music and media industries that ideas don’t emerge fully formed from single individuals. They emerge collaboratively over time. What appeals to me about innovation coaching, as about Scrum, is that it embraces the messiness of the creative process. It provides a measure of structure to the process but without being too linear. You are not helping people to move from A to B to C but helping them loop around back to A again. To me, that’s what enterprise educators should be doing too. It doesn’t hurt, perhaps, that I work at a specialist art and design institution like University of the Arts London. But I think there’s something in innovation coaching for enterprise educators everywhere.

Marcus O’Dair is Professor (designate) of Innovation and the Creative Economy and Associate Dean of Knowledge Exchange at University of the Arts London (UAL).

Stand up

Written by Alison Price

Once again, those working across enterprise agenda are being asked “stand up” to make the case for its contribution to student experience.

As the Financial Times (May 2024) declares “UK universities warn of more course closures and job cuts without state help” and this live tracker shows the national scale of HE change, EEUK recognises the hidden losses that started with the end of ERDF funding which has seen (some hidden) job losses in our enterprise centres over the last few years. EEUK believes that the loss of enterprise centres, departments and staff is a short-sighted move as institutions strive to provide students with community and connectivity, support their well being and deliver on the UK’s ambitions for innovation and drive. But as  last month’s report showed, if Vice Chancellors still don’t recognise the so-called ‘third’ mission of institutions, then the inclusion of #EntEd within the institutional mission fails to provide the protection it appeared to signal.

EEUK calls upon the next government to signal and demonstrate clear and consistent commitment to the enterprise and entrepreneurship educational agenda and allow UK universities and colleges to contribute to the development of the regional, national, and international educational entrepreneurial eco-systems that create innovation.

And on a practical lee, EEUK reminds you to “stand up” and shout about your achievements and those of your students – do it for yourself, the sector, and your students. Write blogs, press releases, contribute to your local news and newsletters, and let us know! (and celebrate Great British Entrepreneurs – get your start-up alumni to apply here)!

To help you make a difference in your work this month, we are highlighting:

And be inspired by the stories from the EntreComp Community!