Remember ‘social enterprises’?

Written by Inge Hill

Social enterprises do not yet feature centrally in our enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Do you wonder why, as I do? In a nutshell, social enterprises are businesses that make profits but have defined in their constitution how the profits will be used for defined beneficiaries, with directors not being in a position to take all profits. The CIC (community interest company as legal form) allows directors to take a small share of the profits.

My inspiration for the interest in social enterprise comes from having met founders in 2001 and 2002 and research participants. In my first research project on start-ups, I came across a creative start-up in Birmingham in her late 20s who had founded a social enterprise, including a community cafe, offered an exhibition space to local artists. She expressed her frustration that her university education had not told her about what a social enterprise is.

Inspired by this comment, (Hill, 2016), I was the first to outline in every chapter in my start-up practice based guide on new venture creation what is different when starting a social enterprise. Having had the ‘social enterprise bug’ in the early noughties, when running my business I invested into the SFEDI accreditation for social enterprise support in 2009. For four years I then worked as an adviser for ERDF-funded programmes and directly with clients.

Today, there is still the opportunity to make supporting social enterprises a profession with a qualification in the UK.

As a passionate educator for and through enterprise, and in times of financial hardships and limited funds, starting a social enterprise is an option more than ever before. We have many external conditions such as

  • Post COVID-19,
  • Post-Brexit,
  • Fuel and energy price increases,
  • Cost of living increases,
  • Wars and natural crisis

that require different ways of thinking and doing business – to benefit communities, for example, and to benefit the planet and support the implementation of the Sustainable Development Goals (UN, 2015).

Catalyst2030 is a social enterprise that has members from across the world – and most members are young people who started social enterprises, and educators like me, passionate to make a difference with enterprise focusing on having a social impact first and foremost. I am a proud member, we develop tools and help for

  • businesses to manufacture and deliver more sustainably and
  • educators to help others to understand the SDG’s better and deliver on the targets – for the benefits of us all.

Join in and contact me to learn more about social enterprise education and/or education for the SDGs!

Remember, we welcome proposals for workshops, sessions and Pecha Kuchas at the IEEC conference that focus on the SDGs and enterprise education. Please look out for the call for sessions next month.

Dr Inge Hill

Director, Enterprise Educators UK

Image: Nathan Lemon,

The Cost of Living Crisis: Entrepreneurial Opportunities

Written by Dave Bolton

In recent years, there has been a growing concern about the rising cost of living and its impact on people’s lives. This crisis has affected people from all walks of life, and has created a number of challenges for families, individuals, and businesses.

However, amidst these challenges, there are also opportunities for entrepreneurs to address the cost of living crisis and create innovative solutions that can help people save money and improve their quality of life.

A row of houses with a rainbow in the sky above them
One of the biggest challenges posed by the cost of living crisis is the rising cost of housing. Housing costs have gone up dramatically in many cities, making it difficult for people to afford a place to live. Entrepreneurs who can come up with innovative solutions to make housing more affordable will be in high demand. For example, entrepreneurs can explore alternative housing options, such as co-living spaces, or they can create new financing models that make it easier for people to purchase a home.

Another area where entrepreneurs can make a difference is in the food industry. The cost of food has also gone up significantly in recent years, making it difficult for people to afford healthy and nutritious food. Entrepreneurs who can create more affordable and sustainable food options will be in high demand. This can be done by creating new supply chains, developing new technologies for food production, or creating new business models that reduce waste and increase efficiency.

Rows of fresh vegetables on a market standIn addition to housing and food, entrepreneurs can also address the cost of living crisis in other areas, such as transportation and healthcare. The cost of transportation has gone up as well, making it difficult for people to afford the necessary modes of transportation to get to work, school, or other important places. Entrepreneurs can create new technologies and business models that make transportation more affordable and accessible. Similarly, the cost of healthcare has gone up, making it difficult for people to access necessary medical services. Entrepreneurs can create new solutions that make healthcare more affordable and accessible, such as telemedicine or alternative health clinics, such as homeopathy, reiki etc.

The cost of living crisis presents a number of challenges for people, families, and businesses. However, amidst these challenges, there are also opportunities for entrepreneurs to address the crisis and create innovative solutions that can help people save money and improve their quality of life. Whether it’s in the housing, food, transportation, or healthcare sectors, entrepreneurs who can find creative ways to address the cost of living crisis will be in high demand, and they will have the opportunity to make a real difference in people’s lives.

Photo by Victoria Feliniak on Unsplash

Photo by Ashley Winkler on Unsplash

Pillars for Success

Written by Alison Price

With the Government being criticised in 2022 for not stating a vision for universities or outlining a clear path to post-Covid/Brexit recovery, the Chancellor made a speech (Jan 23) which outlined his 4 pillars of economic growth. Each of these falls within EEUK’s remit as we work to support the development of entrepreneurial outcomes in others, whether for work, start-up, regional, national, or international.

With a vision looking to Silicon Valley for Enterprise, and Finland or Singapore for education and skills, the Chancellor seeks to tap into individual potential to unlock the UK, creating an enterprise culture built on low taxes, reward for risk, access to capital and smarter regulation. This may be the coming of age of the UK’s person-based, experiential and transformative models of EntEd where HE & FE helps deliver on the UK-wide vision of “everywhere”.

To support this ambition of “everywhere” members to ensure that “Enterprise is for All”, we are currently seeking your insights and advice for ensuring your approach is fully inclusive to all learners, including the neurodiverse. In drafting a new EEUK Way Guide, we are seeking your insight and practices, so please share directly or if you want to find out more to develop your own work, there is a new OECD report Equity and Inclusion in Education: Finding Strength through Diversity out now!

In sector news, Advance HE has reviewed its professional standards framework, seeking views from the sector to launch a data-led, evidence-based revision of its work.  Working within a familiar structure, the new standards focus more on collaborative practice, include digital technologies, and look at the opportunity to understand and do more of the right things, through effectiveness and impact.

In start-up news: last month, we mentioned new partners supporting startup, such as Ebay side hustle workshops, which also sees new funding opportunities such as that from TV Dragon Steven Bartlett and, as ever, lack of visa clarity confuses our ability to provide great HE support to our international would-be starts.

So whether the Chancellor’s vision aligns with the potential visa changes that @WonkHE are describing is unclear, but EEUK is keeping up its ‘visa watch’ and joins the sector in seeking long term clarity for our students.  We will also be following the new arrangements for the Office for Students (OFS) to take up QAA’s former responsibilities to understand what that means for us, if anything, as we work to promote the EEUK policy guide (QAA 2018) across our institutions.

Photo by Ian Hutchinson on Unsplash

What the creative industries can show us about enterprise & entrepreneurship education

Written by Marcus O'Dair

Happy New Year, everyone. Marcus here, an Associate Dean of Knowledge Exchange and Enterprise at University of the Arts London. Since a university offering courses in art, design, fashion, media and performance is perhaps a slightly unusual home for an EEUK Director, I thought I’d use this opportunity to say a few words about creative enterprise and entrepreneurship education.

In one sense, of course, all entrepreneurship is creative, in the sense that it is both novel and useful. I’m talking, though, about entrepreneurship in the cultural and creative economy. For this blog, at least, I’m including freelancing and self-employment under that umbrella.

This might come as a surprise if you think of artists in Romantic terms as people living in garrets but, by some measures, UAL leads the UK higher education sector in producing entrepreneurs. This has something to do with the fact that self-employment accounts for 32% of creative industry employment in the UK, compared to 16% in the economy as a whole.

It is incumbent upon us, then, to give our students the skills and knowledge they need to start and run successful businesses, even if that success is defined in terms that go beyond the narrowly financial. At UAL, I’ve been involved in projects including the £900,000 StART Entrepreneurship programme, in setting up incubation for graduates and in supporting local creative businesses. There are numerous other initiatives across UAL and the entire sector.

If you work in a business school, you might be wondering what all this has to do with you. The answer is that I have always wondered if we, in art schools and arts and creative industries faculties, come at enterprise education in an unusual way. If so, I have wondered whether our approach could be of interest to the wider enterprise education community – especially given the prevalence of so-called ‘design thinking’ in enterprise and entrepreneurship education. A couple of years ago, for instance, I received EEUK funding to conduct a small project in which some of our design students reworked the business model canvas. You can see some of their alternative canvases here. Anyway, if you’re interested, please get in touch.

Disaffection and anxiety: how Enterprise Education can support a turbulent generation

Written by Dave Bolton

Start of a new year and we are already trying to continue with good intentions, It certainly has been an extremely odd few years and for us as enterprise educators, or indeed educators in general, the differences to what we were experiencing prior to March 2020 are profound.

A key area seems to be the generalised mental health issues that are being experienced by students to varying degrees which are manifesting themselves as apathy, anxiety and a distinct lack of resilience. From speaking with colleagues internationally, this is not an issue that is confined to the UK but is being experienced by educators on a global basis at multiple levels of study from primary to higher education.

This then poses the question of what we need to do to support these students moving forward. Is it a matter of just a change in pedagogy or is it something more fundamental that will force us to focus on the whole education environment including how we engage and how we assess?

My personal thoughts around this are that the sector needs to embrace enterprise education but more importantly the transferable skills it provides around creativity, resilience and problem solving to re-define the education landscape. We have a disaffected generation here and what we do in the coming months and years will have a profound and distinct impact on society in general.

The only way is up

Written by Alison Price

A new year provides opportunities for both reflection and preparation, and whilst there has been turbulent and unpredictable times in recent years, the forecast for 2023 is looking positive with challenges ahead to which we can mobilise our staff and students to respond.

Although the funding pots (post UK access to European funding streams) are creating concerns for many enterprise teams in terms of staff capacity, as well as limiting the ability to innovate and experiment, there is much to engage our staff and students with in 2023, such as:

and there are many resources to draw upon:

  • Check out key tools that support goals/planning for netzero
  • Connect with your IT services to understand how IT tools can support SMEs
  • Provide students with their own KE resources on becoming an effective team
  • Check your institutional support for student wellbeing and mental health, and draw in any additional info you need (as students address cost of living/post-pandemic skills and anxiety)

and please ask your SMEs to add their voices to the Small Business Britain and Lloyds Banking Group Disability and Entrepreneurship Survey

2023 also sees predictions of AI as a new force in graduate recruitment (as well as for creatives/ the art world) but in terms of the market for graduate jobs, it is expected that traditional routes may plateau, so a side hustle might help mark your students out from the crowd (even if self-employment is not their initial dream).  Fuelled by a cost of living crisis, the idea of having  a side hustle continues to grow momentum across all age groups and this has seen targeted support coming from new partners, such as Ebay with their roadshows in partnership with Small Business Britain coming to Bristol, Belfast and Cardiff this winter. So, check out the regional and national support as we launch into 2023, and contact EEUK if we can mobilise the network to explore these together.

Photo by Robert Reyes on Unsplash

Christmas Reading

Written by Alison Price

With the politics dominating over recent months, policy development appears to have taken a back seat on the national stage. Work continues within institutions, and across our membership especially those within knowledge exchange to measure what matters.  Data/metrics can help draw links between insight, practice and student success, says this recent WONKHE report which provides opportunity to rethink how to support student engagement and outcomes, whilst acknowledging that the student experience has been altered by the pandemic.

Digital platforms and access to materials still remain critical for students and it is increasingly clear that there is a role for EEUK members to support diversity and inclusion through enterprise.

This statement comes from a HEPI blog, from a series on entrepreneurial universities which also included learning from failure by Adam Shore, LJMU.  It’s also worth reading the HEPI annual review 21/22 to ensure you have an overview of key discussions in the sector (such as engagement and the student voice) as well as reading the NCUB “State of the Relationship” report (summary facts here).

Graduate employment remains strong post-pandemic, despite recruitment being at 30% of its normal levels (the lowest on record) says Prospects Luminate in their recent webinar – also recognising that self-employment was “hit hard” with 8% either self-employed or actively working towards self-employment.

If you are looking for some ‘Christmas reading’, then you might want to revisit the EEUK “how to guides” which explored Entrecomp, as well as approaches to enterprise education for practitioners and educators. If you get time, there might also be a chance to dig into some key related topics, such as those on this sustainability and wellbeing list, or consult the EEUK guide as to how EntreComp can work with GreenComp.  However if your thoughts are already turning to next year’s delivery, then don’t forget the library of support that is or the templates and advice on creative enterprises from Nesta.  So if those New Year resolutions are heading into view, next year brings opportunities to engage with EntreComp through the community café and the new  Awards and of course, the EEUK membership!

See you in 2023!

(Photo by Nong V on Unsplash)

Look out!

Written by Alison Price

(Photo: Alexander Krivitskiy


With KEF dominating much of our EEUK policy updates, the work to support KEConcordat shows sector-wide learning and insight on “what good looks like” that ranges from the social value created within Impact Acceleration Accounts (IAAs) (which see non-academic partners, such as community groups, working with researchers) through to how virtual internships can lead into freelancing for students and graduates.  This KEC work recognises that there is no “one-size-fits-all” approach to measuring non-financial impact measures and asks HEIs to consider “what matters” in order to appreciate the value of Knowledge Exchange.

Many are drawn to Theory of Change evaluation strategies to understand the impact/legacy but critically, by defining KEC value in financial, social, cultural and environmental terms, EEUK members find that this approach resonates with the EntreCompIntoAction definition of enterprise, welcoming how this work supports the enterprise agenda as well as providing new resources that benefit all.

In EntreComp news, the new Champion Awards have been defined at 4 levels (Supporter; Explorer; Practitioner; and Champion) creating personal pathways to success and also providing organisational recognition are launching this month.

However, it is visa news that most HEIs have been desperate for, which has knocked the changes into the New Year and declared that they will continue to accept applications for Innovator-endorsing body status from Higher Educational Institutions and that all of the current endorsing bodies, including the HEIs, are all moved into legacy-endorsing body status, this will enable HEIs to also continue to support those already endorsed on your Start up programmes as they switch into the Innovator route.  Check out this library of blogs to understand Tier 1 extensions and the impact on your students.

*Particular thanks to Finn Finbarr Carter, University of East Anglia and Bonnie Hacking, University of St. Andrews and EEUK membership for their visa work.

All together now

Written by Alison Price

IEEC brings together enterprise educators in all their roles, be that practitioner, influencer or academic, for key discussions that explore how to deliver for staff and students, whether nationally, internationally, in the class room, outside the curriculum or hybrid/online.

Those working in accelerators or incubators will be interested in the latest CentreforEntrepreneurs report that highlights their growth and impact in each nation state, with 1 in 20 new businesses receiving support.

Whilst the 2022 IEEC session policy overview is primarily aimed at our UK Membership, it is clear that the lessons of ‘nations’ can often be drawn as parallels for institutional practice (such as having a clear strategy and mobilising your champions!) just as those of key bodies/entities can be insightful for crafting individual approaches. So post-IEEC, there is always much to reflect upon as term starts –  whether it is the significance of a key appointment (such as Chief Entrepreneur Scotland) or the experience of those working externally (engaging with SMES (KEF (see EEUK blog on SEE) and seeing those approaches) articulated within the KEF Concordats (see NCUB KEC report ).

Appreciating the educational pipeline (using APPG reports on HEI and School Enterprise Education) helps us recognise the importance of EntEd  as a lifelong skill and EEUK welcomes how it forms part of many new QAA benchmark statements (see Prof Andy Penaluna’s EEUK blog) and underpins our shared resources such as ETCToolkit, as now populated by EEUK Fellowship 
Sharing key resources, such as GreenComp and EEUK EntreComp into Action and GreenComp mapping (Prof Andy Penaluna) or new frameworks (2B Framework linking DigComp and EntreComp) helps to guide our practice and connect EEUK members to the EntreComp community.  But it is the deeper reflection on inclusion (defined here by WONKHE;  inspired by the Henley Business School Report Equity Effect (2021) that demands we reflect upon our curriculum design, timetabling/scheduling, and wider approach to ensure that we include all in our ambitions.  Reviewing the latest Office for Students Knowledge Exchange Evaluation reports of recent funded HEI projects highlights many key lessons, around language and clarity with students which “reject the exclusionary  potential of the ‘just do it’ attitude” (Brentnall 2022) that we have transposed from business practice into #ented and our IEEC policy session invites the EEUK membership to consider how we create an environment in which all students can thrive.

Alison Price
Head of Policy and Professional Development

Educating future women entrepreneurs?

Written by Dr Inge Hill

Dr Inge Hill, Royal Agricultural University & Director of Enterprise Educators UK

When I graduated with my PhD, I was invited to take part in an assessment centre for future entrepreneurs and received a psychological profile with all my results showcasing an entrepreneurial personality – at least according to the construct underlying this test. I remember well the emotions I felt when I dragged myself to the letter box in London to post some paper work – the voice in my head telling me that I do not have what it takes, and that I would embarrass myself. At this time, my postdoc research grant had come to an end and I needed to find ways to earn a living to remain in the UK.

I am sharing these thoughts and emotions as they are not untypical for what some women feel when they consider engaging in starting a business. And remember, at that time I had the test result of fully meeting all aspects of an entrepreneurial personality with particular strengths in determination and resilience.

As an educator, even when not directly teaching entrepreneurship, I engage in building female students’ confidence and resilience. And so many things I do today are based on the learning from many programmes and initiatives that existed then but not today.

I was working with a team at the then Department of Trade and Industry to organise the first researcher roundtable on women’s entrepreneurship in 2001 in Downing Street and was one of its speakers. And I trained to be a women’s business adviser and still have the toolkit produced by the then women’s business development agency in Coventry.

Where would I go today and what information and training would I engage with?

I tried my luck, and was surprised how little actionable information I could find with a quick google search. Inspiring I found EEUK member King’s College offering a network King’s College women entrepreneurship network for staff and students.

Here are my tips on what educators and enterprise advisers in HE could do every day:

  • Share the data we have to alert male and female students and colleagues. Most recently, the Gender Index was published with regional insights. Also alert them about the ongoing gender paygap. We need more women role models from diverse backgrounds showcasing the challenges they faced and how they overcame them. The Gender Index only offers ‘more-than’ middle-aged white women as cases. Where are the young ones and those of ethnic minority origin?
  • Create a space for reflection and a rational way to analyse the potential in business situations and how the future female entrepreneur can seize this potential.
  • Counteract women’s lack of confidence and self-efficacy when you find it. Have conversations with women and seek to identify the root causes of limiting beliefs and share tools to address them. This case study I found inspiring as it showcases how one woman entrepreneur overcame hers and how to create a reflective space.

Let’s keep the conversation going – get in touch to discuss what tools we can develop and what we can do next.