‘Inspirational’, insightful’, ‘intriguing’ – overwhelming responses to three days spent at the 2017 International Entrepreneurship Educators Conference. At a time where conference invitations appear in your email in-box like confetti at a wedding, deciding where to spend precious time and resources is at best predictable, driven by patterns of meeting up old friends or at the behest of a significant other’s recommendation (err, not the one you wake up next to each day, well maybe!) but typically your boss. The risky step of venturing into the new ground of a new conference can be scary.
Yet as enterprise educators, do we not encourage our students to take calculated risks in starting their own venture. Are we averse to assessing the benefits and stepping into the unknown?
As a newbie at an IEEC conference in 2017, I found it professionally transformational. Admittedly I had just landed a monster new job and needed to deliver on an entrepreneurial programme, so it was a little like my post-divorce dalliance with internet dating. You rock up at conference, not really sure of what to expect, sometime it’s fascinating other times wildly disastrous. IEEC can go either way, but for me it was exceptionally satisfying.
Welcome to a world of ‘people like me’ enterprise educators, striving to design a programme often squeezed into a gap somewhere left of employability and right of mainstream curriculum. Here is a world of people struggling to raise the profile of entrepreneurship, reach out across an institution likely wrestling with that inherent university disease ‘silocitis’ often with ‘colleagues’ who are not even aware they have the disease. People scrabbling for a sustainable funding model outside of HEIF or Europe. People who provide the evidence to help someone else bask in the satisfaction of having ticked the knowledge exchange box and filled in the HEBCIS return. And perhaps, just perhaps people who enjoy the camaraderie of cooperating with other ‘people like them’ to offer help and support.
For sure you will find ‘people like me’ at IEEC2018 in Leeds this coming September. I do hope that you also find your inspiration, insight and intrigue.
Jerry Allen, EEUK Director and Director for Entrepreneurship, UCL Innovation and Enterprise