Step change for Scotland’s students

Dylan Macdonaldblog

Building on the Scotland CAN DO agenda, John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education, today (Thurs, 2 June) announced the collaboration between Converge Challenge, Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) and Young Enterprise Scotland (YES) to deliver a step change in the quality and availability of enterprise and entrepreneurship education within tertiary (post-secondary) education.

The structured collaboration will focus on delivering optimum enterprise support for those in tertiary education in Scotland to develop the next generation of entrepreneurs and business leaders. A transparent offering that covers every stage of the educational journey whether at college or university making it easier for aspiring entrepreneurs to navigate what enterprise can best support them. The inclusive approach will retain the diversity of enterprise programmes available and ensure different levels are available to support new business ventures.

Converge Challenge, SIE and YES will work collaboratively:

– To inspire all tertiary education students to begin an entrepreneurial journey and develop a mind-set, behaviours and skills that can benefit them throughout their lives
– To encourage those students wishing to pursue an idea and assist in the refinement of their concept and introduce them to the wider entrepreneurial network
– To support those students aiming to start a venture with hands on help to enable the start-up of an ambitious, profitable and sustainable business
– To streamline the enterprise support within tertiary education and increase efficiencies between each organisation
– To provide a transparent offering to students, colleges and universities
– To support Colleges and Universities in their efforts to provide enterprise education to students
– To create a pool of mentors from the alumni networks of each organisation
– To create a programme of joint events and case studies highlighting diversity of entrepreneurial journeys.

The partnership was announced at the first event between Converge Challenge, SIE and YES named ‘Educational Journey of An Entrepreneur’ at RBS Gogarburn, Edinburgh to an audience of 250+.

Hosted by BBC News home editor, Mark Easton, each of the collaboration organisations demonstrated how they support enterprise and entrepreneurship in education and discussed what needs to be done to encourage all students in Scotland to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and expand beyond the concept of starting a business.

Speakers on the day included: John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education; Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge; Fiona Godsman, CEO of SIE; Geoff Leask, CEO of YES; and James McIlroy, CEO of EuroBiotix CIC, an award winning social enterprise tackling unmet clinical needs in microbiota therapy.

John Swinney, Deputy First Minister and Cabinet Secretary for Education said: “Our ambition is to be a world leading entrepreneurial and innovative nation – a Can Do place for business. There are excellent examples of how to encourage students to consider going into business for themselves but this innovative collaboration will increase these opportunities across Scotland. Together we can encourage greater entrepreneurial ambition and ensure that there is the practical enterprise support needed to properly nurture it.”

Dr Olga Kozlova, Director of Converge Challenge, said: “We know that it takes time for those in education to mature into the enterprise space and to reach the stage where they are ready to apply for programmes like Converge Challenge. By working collaboratively we can support those in education at every stage of their entrepreneurial journey and create an inclusive approach that compliments the provisions of each of the partner organisations.”

Fiona Godsman, Chief Executive of Scottish Institute for Enterprise, said: “Scottish Universities and Colleges are at the forefront of developing our ambitious and creative students. To be successful post education it is not just about having the knowledge of your chosen subject but to be able to demonstrate entrepreneurial behaviours whether running your own business or working within an organisation – this is what will deliver successful, profitable, sustainable companies.

Geoff Leask, Chief Executive of Young Enterprise Scotland, said: “Having a structured approach for early on support and encouragement provides a clear pathway for Scotland’s next generation of entrepreneurs.”