Excellent inaugural lecture last night by UWE Bristol’s Professor Dylan Jones-Evans, who I am very pleased to welcome to the University.
Dylan explored questions such as what it means to be an entrepreneurial university, what are the main barriers and how can we do more to nurture the enterprising and entrepreneurial graduates that are critical to our country’s economic growth and social development.
With the majority of new jobs being created by companies under five years old, we can see why this is so important. But this isn’t just about creating entrepreneurs – it is much bigger than that. It is about nurturing an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’. We know that graduates are entering a rapidly changing world, where technologies beyond our current imagination, are creating jobs that we have not even thought of yet. In this environment, all graduates will need to demonstrate the enterprising attributes that Dylan spoke of – such as being action-oriented, persistent, self-determined and agile.
This is a key part of UWE Bristol’s Strategy 2020 and what it means to be a UWE Bristol graduate. Making this the lived experience for all our students is a major priority for this University.
I look forward to working with Dylan, colleagues across the University, businesses and organisations as we really drive the enterprise agenda forward, from what is a very strong base. Our innovation networks have already supported over 700 SMEs, the Graduate Talent West portal provides access to our 6,000 graduates each year (led by UWE Bristol with Business West, the LEP and other universities in the region), we run one of the largest paid internship programmes in the country, and 47% of our expenditure is with SMEs (above the government’s target of 25% for the public sector).
As Dylan stressed, this isn’t about universities working on their own. It is about universities working with businesses, local and regional organisations, and policy makers to create the experiences and rich environments where ideas and innovations can flourish.
Today, I am very pleased to say we have moved a major step further, winning funding to set up one of four ‘University Enterprise Zones’ to be supported by BIS, providing a business ‘hatchery’, incubation and grow on space for businesses specialised in robotics, biosciences, biomedicine and other high tech areas. The Zone is expected to generate over 500 new jobs, and more than £50m for the local economy. It has been developed in collaboration with the West of England Local Enterprise Partnership and the University of Bristol with strong support from South Gloucestershire Council, the University of Bath and the West of England Academic Heath Science Network.
The world we are living in is changing a pace. Collaboration, enterprise and an ‘entrepreneurial mindset’ are essential – and right at the forefront of our thinking at UWE Bristol.