Who got that CASH?

June 23, 2006

"If you're going to work full time to support yourself, why not set up your own business rather than cooking burgers at McDonald's?" asks Brian Clements, director of Wolverhampton Business School's Institute for Innovation and Enterprise.

Mr Clements is leading a £5 million Higher Education Innovation Fund project to help students do just that.

"The innovation is taking students at any level and, within the framework of an academic course, giving them the opportunity to set up their own businesses," he said.

The Student Placements for Entrepreneurs in Education (Speed) project includes 11 other universities: Birmingham, Coventry, Derby, Nottingham Trent, Southampton Solent, Staffordshire, Thames Valley, Central England, Ulster, Warwick and Worcester.

Speed aims to help students set up their own businesses while minimising the risks of business failure interfering with their studies.

"Part of it is looking at more pragmatic ways of getting people into employment," Mr Clements said.

"If we're lucky, we'll have a reasonable proportion of those businesses continuing. If not, then we will still have produced 750 graduates with experience of setting up a business, and we'll have taken away that fear factor."

He attributes the success of his bid to providing detailed information and engaging a broad range of academic partners. The university, which has won public and private support for the project, plans to carry out research on it, he said.

But the concept was the clincher, Mr Clements said. It fulfilled the desires of academia, enterprise and politicians - widening access to academically supervised enterprise development opportunities, he said.

Anthea Lipsett

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