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Enterprising Universities

Between 23-28 February 2003 Mercia Institute of Enterprise, the Science Enterprise Centre for the West Midlands universities based at Warwick ( organised the first international British Council-sponsored seminar "The Enterprising University" at Scarman House. The seminar was attended by over 30 heads and senior managers of universities, including seven Vice-Chancellors and Pro-Vice-Chancellors and one Government Minister, many of whom were based in Eastern Europe.

The aim of the seminar was to address how a university can create assets and prosper in the 21st century by generating new sources of revenue in an era of declining government funding around the world. Many of the ideas discussed during the seminar were specifically aimed at building links between universities and business, identified as significant in the Government's White Paper published on 22 January 2003. There is also an urgent need to create and foster an entrepreneurial spirit in many countries, in order to create jobs and stimulate much-needed growth in the wider economy.

The seminar, initiated and chaired by Professor Stephen Hagen, Director of the Mercia Institute, presented case studies from four of the UK?s most successful universities in the field of enterprise: Warwick, Birmingham, Cambridge and Oxford. The programme featured mainly Warwick speakers, including Jonathan Nicholls and Jim Rushton (Registry), Ederyn Williams (Warwick Ventures), Clive Dove- Dixon (Retail), Andrew Paine (Conferences) and Kate Hughes (Research Support Services) in addition to two leading academics, Professor Kumar Bhattacharyya, Director of Warwick Manufacturing Group and Professor David Storey from Warwick Business School.

Among the subject areas addressed at the seminar were how to:

  • set up commercial units within the university
  • exploit the results of research
  • establish and manage a university science park
  • manage intellectual property rights, licenses, patents and copyrights
  • identify worthwhile inventions
  • create an entrepreneurial mindset among staff and students
  • create a curriculum that encourages, channels and rewards enterprise
  • organise business plan competitions and events as a means of promoting an enterprise culture amongst students

    In response to follow-up requests from many of the delegates, a discussion forum is being established on the net for the exchange of ideas on entrepreneurial innovation in universities. This ongoing 'virtual' seminar will hopefully assist heads of universities to continue learning from others' experiences as they implement different strands of the seminar.

    Delegates at the Enterprising University seminar
    Delegates at the Enterprising University seminar

    Further information on the programme is available at