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Definitions for Common Business and Enterprise Terms

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Angel investors/business angels

Wealthy individuals who provide capital for a business start-up, usually in exchange for convertible debt or ownership equity. They are different from venture capitalists in that they typically invest their own funds, rather than managing the funds of others.



Business Model Design

The research and identification of market, customers, product/service/channel pricing. The search for the business model is the front end of the start-up process.




A group of employees who break off from their parent company to found a new company but continue to do business with the parent. Examples are Silicon Valley, Leamington Spa gaming cluster.


The process by which a new product or service is introduced into the general market. Commercialization is broken into phases, from the initial introduction of the product through its mass production and adoption. It takes into account the production, distribution, marketing, sales and customer support required to achieve commercial success. As a strategy, commercialization requires that a business develop a marketing plan, determine how the product will be supplied to the market and anticipate barriers to success.




Showing the initiative to take calculated risk in setting up, investing in and running a business. Enterprise represents the application of creative ideas & innovations to practical situations

Enterprise Education

Aims to produce graduates with the mindset and skills to come up with original ideas that develop into innovative products or services which deliver economic, intellectual and social value.


In a university enterpreneurship is often related to the process of commercialising a research process or product for sale, sometimes via a 'spin out' company. It is also about the transfer of knowledge from universities to industry and the public sector.

Entrepreneurship educators

Are now beginning to build their own E-school curriculum with a new class of management tools ie Business Model Design, Product-Service Development, Customer development, start-up team building, entrepreneurial finance, Marketing.



Incubation centres/business incubators

Create a supportive environment and are often located in close proximity to research centres eg. Cambridge that provide a local pool of management talent, funding, patent services and a cluster of existing companies that may act as potential collaborators. Government and other public sector agencies will invest in incubators.

Intellectual property (IP)

The rights relating to literary, artistic and scientific works, including scientific discoveries, industrial designs, or rights resulting from intellectual activity


The innovation or introduction of new products, services or markets in existing firms.




Part of entrepreneurship education based on experiential learning and immediate feedback to engage students with real world opportunities.

Lean LaunchPad

A class that is run in contrast to traditional entrepreneurship education. Instead of business plans, students are charged with developing a viable business concept in 8 weeks. They create a company and tweak the business model using changes known as pivots.

Licensing (of technology)

Technology can be licensed to an existing company who have the necessary infrastructure already in place ie channels to market, existing contacts and commercial management




A form of protection that provides a person/joint inventors with exclusive rights to make, sell or use a concept or invention for the duration of the patent.


Practical business experience merged with academic understanding and analysis.




Interactive, multi-disciplinary workshops, used by funding bodies to drive lateral thinking and radical approaches to research challenges. (also mini-sandpits, the compressed version!)

Science Parks

A collection of buildings dedicated to scientific research on a business footing. Frequently associated with HEI’s eg Warwick, Technology Centre, Coventry. These parks offer shared resources to reduce overhead costs and are often supported by local government to expand employment opportunities

Spinout companies

Typically depend on venture capital. Return expected by a VCI (venture capital investor) is typically c.30% at exit. Spinouts are designed to exploit technology and are based on academic discoveries. They usually involve the transfer of existing University staff into the new company on a permanent or secondment basis.


A temporary organisation created by people outside a research institution. Designed to search for a repeatable and scaleable business model. A start-up can be a new venture or it can be a new division or business unit within an existing company.



Venture Capital

Can also include managerial and technical expertise. Most venture capital comes from a group of wealthy investors. The downside for entrepreneurs is that venture capitalists usually get a say in company decisions, in addition to a portion of the equity.

Venture Capitalists

Investors who provide money to start up firms and new businesses with perceived long-term growth potential. A very important route for start ups who do not have the access and credibility (due to limited operating history) to capital markets. It typically represents high risk for the investor but above average returns if successful.