UniVenture19 – Promoting Enterprise in London 

This week’s blog piece is guest written by London Higher colleague Jordan Hill. Thanks Jordan!

London is the start-up capital of Europe with over £2.5 billion of investment and over 200,000 new businesses launched each year – over 13 times more than any other UK city.  London’s key role in future UK prosperity is undeniable and it is vitally important to emphasise the role that enterprise education has in this future.  It is well known that London is one of the world’s most important financial centres and has the largest cluster of universities in Europe.  Looking internationally, London is the most popular destination for students, followed by Sydney, Melbourne and Manchester.  Bearing all of this in mind, it is clear that London hosts an enormous amount of talent and potential to catalyse innovation.

But it is important to note that these attributes must be nurtured.  Different stakeholders across the city all have their role to play and must work closely together to identify, educate and support future innovators.  In the current context of Brexit, it is more important than ever for all elements of the entrepreneurial ecosystem in London to develop efficient and effective partnerships; we cannot take London’s historic strengths for granted in a time of such intense uncertainty.  For example, in terms of new start-ups and investment, Berlin is close behind London but has much lower overheads and slightly higher salaries in some key areas, which makes it an extremely attractive option for new businesses.

Determining how London’s universities could be do more to maximise the impact of their enterprise activities is one of the core missions of the London Student Enterprise Group, formed in 2017 from the Heads of Enterprise from around 25 London Universities.

The group does this primarily by sharing information on current activities intended to support student enterprise and by collaborating on projects.  London Higher is founded on the belief that when universities work with each other and with relevant stakeholders, their combined efforts are worth more than just the sum of their parts.

This is why we are running UniVenture19, as part of the inaugural London HE Week this June.

UniVenture19 is a Student Enterprise Exhibition bringing together eight diverse universities in London, representing different missions, backgrounds and sizes, with the aim of showcasing students with brilliant ideas to an audience of businesses, investors, banks, not-for-profits, accelerators and other stakeholders involved in supporting students with ambitions to start their own companies.

This exhibition is important because if HEIs want to be seen not only as part of the education sector but also a key player within the wider London landscape, they must increase their exposure to key stakeholders.  UniVenture19 will therefore provide students from London universities with the opportunity to present, network and share ideas with organisations from the London innovation ecosystem who can help them further develop their business concepts, as well as emphasising the excellent work of London’s Higher Education sector in the area of student enterprise.

UniVenture19 is unique because each institution represented has a different motivation behind supporting students with business ideas.  Enterprise education is about more than encouraging students to start their own businesses, it is about embedding an entrepreneurial mindset within students to add value socially, culturally and economically during their careers.  Each university will have a different methodology in this regard and while some are supporting their entrepreneurs to become the next Monzo or Uber, others emphasise these skills to help their students become business owners and provide them with a supplementary income.

There is not one mould of entrepreneur, as the diverse business sector in London clearly demonstrates.  Londoners have all sorts of reasons for starting their own business and it’s crucial that HE provision reflects, embraces and encourages that, as UniVenture19 will celebrate.  London needs the diversity of entrepreneurs that our exhibition will highlight, from the cold brew coffee start-up in Hackney to the tech giant in Kings Cross, and with the diversity of HE provision in London, and the excellence in innovation that our student exhibitors will present, UniVenture19 will provide an unforgettable opportunity to glimpse the future of enterprise in London.

For more information about this exhibition visit the event webpage.

This forms part of London HE Week. For further details visit https://www.londonhigher.ac.uk/events/london-he-week/.