Enterprise Champions


Stimulating enterprise and entrepreneurship across our higher education institutions is now seen by many governments as fundamental to driving economic success and social cohesion. The European Union promotes the ‘fostering of entrepreneurial mindsets’ for all young people. In the UK, the government and devolved administrations encourage and support increases in the scale and diversity of students and graduates taking up entrepreneurial opportunities.
The HE Enterprise Champions Project in the North West Region of England is part financed by the European Regional Development Fund and is managed by NCEE in partnership with North West Universities European Unit (NwUEU.) The project first started in 2008. The Phase 2 project runs from 2010 to 2014.

Project awards were provided to ten institutions in Phase One. Nine institutions from the North West region are engaged in Phase 2. The project supports the creation of Enterprise Champions who act as a catalyst for change across the campus. The participating institutions are:

  • University of Bolton
  • University of Chester
  • Edge Hill University
  • Lancaster University
  • University of Liverpool
  • Liverpool John Moores University
  • Manchester Metropolitan University
  • Salford University
  • University of Central Lancashire

What does this project aim to do

  • Increase the opportunities for entrepreneurship across the campus;
  • Influence the institutional environment making it more conducive for student enterprise and graduate entrepreneurship;
  • Build institutional capacity for delivering entrepreneurial outcomes – for students, graduates and staff;
  • Raise student/graduate motivation for entrepreneurial career/life;
  • Convert student intent and aspiration into entrepreneurial action;
  • Develop areas of professional excellence in practising entrepreneurship as showcase exemplars;
  • Deliver impact – new businesses, new jobs and enhanced entrepreneurial skills

What are the benefits?

The NW HE Enterprise Champions Project plays a strategic and practical role in enabling HEIs to:

  • become a more entrepreneurial university or college, unlocking the potential of its staff, students and graduates;
  • connect more meaningfully with key stakeholders and regional agencies;
  • influence policies and practices in shaping the environment for enterprise and entrepreneurship;
  • deliver a more meaningful experience for staff, students and graduates.

What is the impact?

Overall this project will deliver 377 new graduate start-ups; 380 new jobs; and 1,646 students and graduates assisted with converting their entrepreneurial aspirations into tangible outcomes.

Additionally and more broadly:

  • More enterprising graduates creating opportunities in existing organisations in the public and private sectors;
  • More graduate entrepreneurs creating opportunities for wealth and job creation;
  • More HEIs with increased capacity for entrepreneurship – attractive for recruiting and retaining students.

A recent independent report by EKOS found:

  • The estimated potential return on investment of the NW Enterprise Champions project by 2016 will be 3.6:1
  • Net additional GVA by 2016 of £6,800,000
  • and 220 net additional jobs by 2016

Project aims and objectives

The overall aim of the project is: To increase levels of early stage entrepreneurial activity among graduates and build capacity for entrepreneurship support across NW HEIs. The role of Enterprise Champions is to act as catalysts for change in the North West HE sector, enhancing the environment for enterprise and entrepreneurship. The key aims and objectives of the project are:

  • increase provision of entrepreneurial awareness and development opportunities at all nine partner institutions;
  • provide students, graduates and staff across the nine partner universities with enterprise learning and support;
  • embed enterprise activities across a diversity of subjects and disciplines in partner institutions;
  • develop staff capability for delivering entrepreneurship within and outside of the mainstream curricula within partner institutions;
  • support and shape the institutional environment for entrepreneurship across all nine institutions;
  • increase levels of graduate start-up at all nine institutions; and
  • build institutional excellence in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship and enterprise support across all partner institutions.

To achieve these aims and objectives, the project partners will:

  • Establish and support an Enterprise Champion, or team, together with supporting resources;
  • Contribute to a regional network of Enterprise Champions to share experiences and best practice;
  • Report progress against expected profiles and highlight achievements and challenges;
  • Develop and support graduate and student enterprise learning opportunities and programmes to promote awareness of enterprise and build entrepreneurial capacities;
  • Provide advice, mentoring and signposting to student and graduate enterprises and spin out companies to boost the rate of enterprise formation;
  • Work to develop an entrepreneurial culture within the institution by connecting services and support across campus and embedding enterprise goals within the strategic priorities and plans of the organisation;
  • Work with university staff to embed enterprise learning within curricula across a wide range of academic disciplines;
  • Co-ordinate enterprise support across campus to improve access and ensure effective signposting to external sources of support.

There are a number of key project milestones to be met:

  • to increase annually the provision of entrepreneurial mentoring and development opportunities from 2010 to 2014;
  • to provide enterprise development and support between 2010 and 2014 to increasing numbers of students, graduates and staff;
  • to help embed an enterprise culture and supporting activities across an increasingly diverse range of subjects and disciplines from 2010 to 2014;
  • to increase opportunities to develop staff capability for delivering entrepreneurship within and outside of the mainstream curricula/mission areas from 2010 to 2014;
  • to support and shape the institutional environment for entrepreneurship identified by changes in institutional characteristics between 2010 and 2014;
  • to increase levels of (graduate) business start-up by 2014; and
  • to build institutional excellence in the development and delivery of entrepreneurship and enterprise support by 2014