In seeking “2020 vision” for the year ahead, I am starting to wonder if we are on the cusp of another significant step change in enterprise education. Noises from Westminster suggest increased focus in the outputs of HEI research and innovation as driver for the UK economy and the momentum provided by a new government interest could further advance our work. With media interest in the development of “the MIT of the North” this builds on last month’s call by former Universities Minister, David Willetts (Dec 2019) for increased spin outs and HEI innovation. There is concern that this could potentially fragment the increased integration of institutional enterprise agendas but, together with the new focus on Knowledge Exchange and associated metrics (KEF) there could collectively be a significant step forward for our work.
Nationally this focus could be reminiscent of the last major UK government initiative in this space – “the Science Enterprise Challenge” of 1990s – which saw significant investment into Cambridge University to create links to MIT and develop third stream activity within UK institutions. This created a national focus on entrepreneurship within the discipline areas of Science and Engineering (UKSEC) which ultimately saw the creation of EEUK as the membership organisation you know today. Since UKSEC, our remit has expanded and we now work across all subject areas, across the whole of the UK and across all areas of the institution to enable excellence in enterprise education and to champion those working as enterprise educators.
So 2020 sees EEUK representing a diversity of roles, nation states and institutions, working for its membership and understanding the critical importance of creating a local and national environment in which Associates can work effectively. We currently are making three calls to government and senior management to help support the eco-system in which we work and create a stable environment in which we can develop entrepreneurial outcomes for others, and support their aspirations.
With the need to plan ahead within a stable environment, we understand that funding can be key for many working as enterprise educators and so we are kicking off the new year by asking about your understanding of HEIF (Higher Education Innovation Fund) so particularly if you work within an English HEI, please respond to our short survey to paint a picture of the role that HEIF is playing in your institution.
We will continue to support you and help amplify your voice within the national discussions to create the step change that we are all seeking.
Alison Price, Head of Policy, EEUK