End of an era:
Over that last four-year project, we have supported over 115 businesses to launch, and provided many, many more students and graduates the opportunity to access education and experiences that have helped them to develop their entrepreneurial skills and mindset, which have undoubtedly enhanced their employability prospects and helped them grow in confidence.
But the impact of European funding on university start-up support also extends beyond academic boundaries. Successful start-ups have the potential to generate employment opportunities and drive economic growth. Indeed, many of ours have done exactly that - including M.A.D Communications. They made their first two hires by coming back to the University for support to grow their business through recruiting graduate talent. They accessed our Small to Medium Enterprise (SME) Graduate Internship funding, which was underpinned by, yes, you guessed it, ERDF.
Time for change:
In the light of uncertainty around the delivery timeframe of successor funding calls (looking at you UK Shared Prosperity), it is with mixed emotion that I say goodbye to ERDF. Anyone who has engaged with it will tell you it’s not been without its challenges, and some would argue there has been an over-reliance on this type of funding in building SME support structures.
But it’s with some confidence that I say, that without a decade of funding to build resources, infrastructure, impact, and profile of the importance of nurturing innovation and entrepreneurship, the University may not have considered enterprise education to be so fundamentally important in the work of the new Centre for Graduate Prospects.
Sitting firmly in a Teaching and Learning, rather than extra-curricular / optional space, the Centre will explore new strategies of career education in which to positively impact the experience of our students. Students who we firmly believe have the potential to achieve life-changing success and make a society-shaping impact.