Making it Happen

Enterprise & Entrepreneurship Education

Scotland’s higher education sector has an important role to play in making Scotland a world-leading entrepreneurial and enterprising nation.

The role of universities in entrepreneurship is three-fold. We can develop and support our students and graduates to be entrepreneurs. We can support and encourage them to be intra-preneurs when they work within someone else’s business. Finally, we can support our staff to be entrepreneurial in the application of their research.

Making it Happen reflects the enthusiasm within our universities for this agenda. In autumn of this year Principals got together to agree a statement of commitment and a set of 8 actions that can be taken to deliver more.

Making it Happen also introduces you to some of the entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial students and staff in our universities who have embarked upon new enterprises; taking their ideas and making them work.

Initially published in November 2015, we’ve since added 8 new and inspiring stories of enterpreneurship and intrapreneurship from across our higher education institutions.

8 actions signed up to by all 19 institutions

  1. We will review the curricula we teach to further embed enterprise and entrepreneurship. We have asked QAA Scotland to work with us and to spend 2016-17 focussing on a cross-sector project on enterprise and entrepreneurship in higher education.
  2. We commit ourselves to a 25 per cent increase in the number of student start-ups over the next three years.
  3. We commit ourselves to a 25 per cent increase in the number of students and staff taking part in enterprise and entrepreneurship workshops and similar activities over the next three years. This would bring the total to over 14,000.
  4. The culture in our institutions is important. We will drive further cultural change by:
    • Exploring how collaboration might increase access to incubation services and mentoring. This should include innovative ways to ensure our students living in rural and deprived areas can benefit.
    • Working with our alumni and other networks to identify more entrepreneurs who can support our plans, including their contribution to the enterprise training we can offer Scottish businesses.
    • Bringing together those who train postgraduate research students in Scotland in January 2016 to ensure that enterprise and entrepreneurship is a part of the training that early-career researchers receive.
  5. We will work with our partners across the public agencies to explore how we can host more national and local business creation services. In doing so universities can enhance their role as hubs for entrepreneurship and innovation support in their communities.
  6. We will offer every student an opportunity for work-related experience during their degree programme including placements, mentoring, enterprise opportunities, field trips and case studies.
  7. Where universities offer work placements to students we will ensure they are fair work; either paid and/or credit bearing as part of the curriculum. This will take some time but we want to get there.
  8. We will provide the Innovation Scotland Forum and Scotland Can Do with regular updates on our achievements.

Our student entrepreneurs

Nicola Pitticas founded Title XI as a UHatch start-up business at Glasgow Caledonian University. Founded in 2014 Title XI provides the next generation of Scottish female athletes with opportunities to develop athletically and academically in America. As a former international hockey athlete, Nicola is a passionate advocate of equality; the name Title XI comes from the U.S gender equity Law, enacted in 1972, to provide female athletes equal access to sporting opportunities in America.

With a keen eye for athletic talent, Nicola scouts and recruits young athletes who aspire to succeed. Nicola has helped to place a host of athletes with prestigious U.S universities including Boston College, Barry University of Miami and Stanford.

The early business goal was to place five athletes. Nicola achieved more than twice that and is aiming for 20% annual growth in her recruitment targets.

There’s a lot of talk about whether or not people should go to university or straight into setting up their business but to me the two aren’t mutually exclusive. I wouldn’t have come across the idea for the wristband if I hadn’t been studying medicine. University is a great way of getting ideas, skills and experience. What’s been most helpful has been the support from Dundee.

Christopher is developing a new wearable technology wristband that detects very early-stage deterioration in the condition of patients. Snap40 aims to save lives, reduce unnecessary hospitalisations and lead to earlier patient discharges. the wristband monitors patient information one hundred times a second and interprets this data using patent-pending technology which can pre-emptively warn healthcare staff of a negative change in their patient’s health in real time.

Edinburgh Napier University believed in me and accepted me onto the MSc in Business Management with Entrepreneurship which I graduated from in 2009. In 2013 I founded MaRobert’s an Edinburgh-based brand specialising in East African sauces. Currently we produce three mouth-watering sauces – hot, medium and fruity which is perfect for cooking or dipping.

We are the first and only producer of East African sauces in the UK and the ethnic cooking sauces market represents 92% of the market for cooking sauces as a whole.

I am very grateful to Edinburgh Napier University for providing and preparing me with the entrepreneur mind-set. I thank the University for giving the opportunity and preparing me for my journey, and life, of being an entrepreneur.

I launched Yomp immediately upon graduating from University with my ex-boss as a co-founder. Yomp is an employee engagement platform which improves health and wellbeing in the workplace – increasing productivity, reducing absenteeism and boosting staff satisfaction. At the time of writing Yomp has delivered lifetime revenues of over £1 million from a total investment to-date of £225K.

I owe a lot to my time at university, especially my varied involvement with the Scottish Institute for Enterprise. I went to their events, attended their week-long Bootcamp in Glasgow, entered their nationwide business plan competitions and became their campus representative too. If it wasn’t for SIE I’m unsure exactly where I’d be today. The thought of a quintessential “graduate scheme” where one can predict their career milestones over the next five years filled me with terror; whereas running a startup is entirely the opposite — only by pivoting and tweaking does one manage to survive what’s ahead.

I think there’re been a big shift in student perception towards entrepreneurship as a viable occupation. Enterprise societies are prolific and have played a role in this transition, alongside bodies such as SIE, TV shows like Dragons Den, additions to the curriculum and competitions like Peter Jones’ Tenner Tycoon I think there’s a myriad of factors at play. Which is awesome, as I look at the options available to my younger sister and the difference — in just a matter of years — is vast.

We first started RAW Film through the Prince’s Trust and then found further business support through QMU who asked us to be the first business based in their new Business Innovation Zone.

Being based at the University has allowed us to look for advice from our former film lecturers, who have years of experience working in the corporate market. This has been invaluable to us as they have given us guidance on the editing of some of our films and have in some cases even helped choose what projects we should take on in order to further our business.

QMU’s marketing team has done a lot to help us promote our business, which has resulted in us gaining some of our larger contracts. The marketing team promoted Agata’s win at the Scottish Baftas, which brought our business to the attention of Alzheimer Scotland.  We subsequently secured a contract to make a series of films for the charity.

It is great to be able to turn your passion into your career. This does turn you into a workaholic, but it’s not necessarily a bad thing if you love what you do.

RAW Film specialises in corporate PR films for online marketing and promotion. Clients have included NHS Scotland, East Lothian Council, Mental Welfare Commission and The Royal and Ancient Golf Club. Agata won a Bafta new talent award in 2012.

Hospital patients in remote areas of Dumfries and Galloway are able to return home sooner, thanks to an innovative idea that Susie Allison put into place, whilst on placement for her degree in social work with The Open University (OU).

Susie, aged 43, was on placement with Dumfries & Galloway Council’s Adult Care Social Work Services in Stranraer, when she noticed that care providers were refusing to take on work in remote rural areas. This was delaying patients’ returning home from hospital, as the patients could not receive the necessary after care.

Susie applied theory to practice, by mapping out the distance between the care services and the care users, and developing a week-long schedule to make visits more practical and financially viable. This meant that patients could be discharged from hospital sooner, because suitable after care was available.

Susie said: “The OU course helped me to put theory into practice. I had a great tutor, who helped me see the links between theory and practice, which helped my idea.

“The tutorials helped for sharing knowledge with each other and reflecting. I was able to apply the learning up to the minute on placement. The course helped to open my mind to look at different angles and different situations, and to apply that approach when on placement.”

Key Points:

  • Every university in Scotland has a strategic commitment to enterprise & entrepreneurship.
  • Over 11,000 students a year take part in their universities’ entrepreneurship activities.
  • There were over 433 graduate start-ups active last year with a total turnover of £41 million.
  • Graduate start-ups have increased by 14% in the last 3 years.
  • There has been a surge in applications to enterprise competitions within our universities.
  • Scotland has 28% of the UK’s spin-out companies compared to London’s 18%.


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