Top Lloyds Business Award nomination for Sheffield Uni

Sheffield Uni nominated for Duke of York Award for University Entrepreneurship at the Lloyds Bank National Business Awards

The Lloyds Bank National Business Awards is the flagship awards programme that recognises and rewards excellence across all sectors in the UK

Now its 15th year, these are the ones to win – any company within the UK, whether public, private or third sector can enter, regardless of size or industry. The Awards have a range of categories suited for any successful organisation to tell their story; from large private and public companies through to thriving entrepreneurial businesses, promising start-ups and established SMEs.

The Duke of York Award for University Entrepreneurship is one of the Awards’ 18th categories. This award recognises the work of universities to encourage, prepare and enable entrepreneurial opportunities, distinguishing those doing and delivering most.

The University of Sheffield is one of the five university finalists. We chatted to Sara Pates, Head of Enterprise at the University of Sheffield, who also leads on the development and implementation of the University’s strategy for enterprise education and manage the University’s enterprise department.

Please give us a short overview of the programme you entered into the awards…

We entered the University of Sheffield into the awards rather than just the programmes we run through our Enterprise Department. Our approach of putting enterprise education at the heart of what we do, supporting it at the highest levels and making it available to all of our students drives economic growth through enterprising knowledge transfer. It is our belief that every student should have the opportunity to develop enterprising skills, attributes and behaviours as part of their curriculum, contextualised within their discipline studies.  

To achieve this ambition our Enterprise Education team support academics across the University to embed enterprise within all degree programmes offered by the University.  Students and graduates are provided with the opportunity to make their ideas happen through our entrepreneurial support offer: Evolve. 

What impact has this programme had upon the university and your students?

Through close interaction between enterprise education and entrepreneurship support we are able to not only practice what we preach, but also to preach what we practice.  Our expertise in enterprise education makes sure that our entrepreneurship support programmes are delivered using a sound theoretical underpinning.  Our expertise in entrepreneurship support ensures that our enterprise education incorporates latest trends and methodologies in entrepreneurship practice, as well of course as providing a great pool of entrepreneurial talent to case study to our students.  Through our support our teaching staff are able to confidently design a curriculum that delivers enterprise skills without them feeling as though they need to be business experts.

Do you think this has made the university more attractive to prospective students? 

It’s important that our prospective students not only recognise our commitment to their professional development and employability, but also we prepare them to become innovation leaders able to influence and shape the world around them; but a student’s choice of university is not just about courses, it’s also about place.  By connecting university enterprise education and entrepreneurship with our sense of place in our local and global community we enhance the development of an integrated startup ecosystem that nourishes and grows entrepreneurial talent; and nurture graduates with enterprising capabilities to lead economic growth.  

What does it mean to you and the university to be nominated for a Lloyds Bank National Business Award for University Entrepreneurship?

I believe the University of Sheffield is the most entrepreneurial university in the UK at the moment. The leadership from the senior management is visionary, and has created an exemplary enterprise education ecosystem. Sheffield have the potential to be a world-leading Institute in this area, and recognition from the Lloyds Bank National Business Award for University Entrepreneurship would significantly contribute to our aim to be an active part of the global community of learning in Enterprise Education; raising awareness of our innovative practices and opening new opportunities from us to share our experiences and learn from others.

Have you had to work closely with any businesses on this project? If so, how has this benefited the university and your students?

Our work in the curriculum is underpinned by our relationships with the businesses and communities around us.  We seek to provide our students with an authentic learning experience that provides tangible benefits to the partners we work with.  Our partners provide real case studies for our students to work on and our students produce outputs that our partners can implement.  This provides a more rewarding experience for our students, knowing that their studies can make a real impact when they happen, not just when they get a job.

How important are these business partnerships to student employability?  

Through enterprise education we are able to give our students practical and applied experiences that put them ahead of the game in the graduate labour market.  Our graduates are not just good employees, they are exceptional employees who are able to evidence that they have skills in problem and opportunity spotting, that they are able to create innovative solutions to business and social problems, and more importantly, that they have the skills and knowledge to know how to put ideas into action, to make them happen.  Our students are able to evidence their capacity to lead change and development within their employment and bring value and impact to the organisations they go on to work for.

The winning university will be announced at the Award ceremony on the 15th of November at the Grosvenor House Hotel, Park Lane, London. Visit www.nationalbusinessawards.co.uk for more information.

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