Stimulating enterprise and commerce

2009, a challenging year for businesses large and small. The University’s targeted efforts to support its business partners through this difficult time were crystallised in a new Innovation and Enterprise Strategy for 2010-2015. Our culture of enterprise has already had a positive impact on industry, business and the community, delivering recession-beating initiatives.

Tapping into a rich seam of talent

The University saw a healthy return on its ongoing investment in the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme. Wolverhampton rose to second in the country for the scheme which places graduates with companies to help them boost their profits. Wolverhampton already holds the top ranking within the Midlands.

Last year, the University’s KTP initiative saw an increased take-up, helping 40% more businesses to beat the recession with the aid of a high-calibre Wolverhampton graduate.

Thanks to funding of £24 million from Advantage West Midlands, the European Regional Development Fund and the Technology Strategy Board, KTP activity is set to grow still further. Led by the University of Wolverhampton, a consortium of 12 regional universities will work to increase the number of partnerships from 70 to 210 over the next three years.

Maximising business assets

The University’s ongoing drive to deliver a coherent and consistent product offering to the marketplace was marked with the launch of Intelligent Career Development (i-CD) in 2009. The continuing professional development company,  i-CD Ltd, works with employers to maximise the skills and knowledge of their workforce with client-focused training packages.

i-CD has a clear remit; to help boost the performance and profitability of local small and medium-sized enterprises by advancing opportunities for flexible learning through accessible and affordable training, accredited by the University of Wolverhampton.

Plugging the skills gap

The University was awarded a £300,000 Joint Information Systems Committee (JISC) project to develop an employer-responsive curriculum. The project will be managed through the University’s Institute for Learning Enhancement (ILE).

The project supports the upskilling of workers in the West Midlands, focusing on small to medium-sized enterprises, by meeting the training needs of employers through a cutting-edge portfolio. It will respond to the particular concerns of individual businesses and to the development of customised learning programmes, as well as delivering workshops and external events.

New initiative off to a flying start

The University kicked-off a pioneering entrepreneurship training programme focused on sports businesses in the UK. We teamed up with Wolverhampton Wanderers to support a new generation of UK graduate sports entrepreneurs.

Wolverhampton Wanderers are the first football club in the country to be involved in a scheme of this type. The FlyingStart Programme for Sports Business is set to raise the game of ambitious young business people, providing support, assistance and mentoring to get their enterprise started and running successfully.

A role model for good business

Diana Thompson, Business Director of the University’s award-winning e-Innovation Centre was shortlisted for the prestigious title of Businesswoman of the Year 2009, in the Midlands’ Vitalise awards. Under Diana’s leadership, the e-Innovation Centre is now home to more than 57 companies as well as providing consultancy and mentoring to more than 170 businesses.

The Centre has achieved a model of best practice accolade from the National Audit Office. As a result of its work, more than 73 new jobs have been created, and approaching £3 million in new sales generated, by companies occupying the Centre and receiving business support.

Putting ideas to work

A £5.2 million scheme run by the University’s Institute for Innovation & Enterprise (IIE) gave students with entrepreneurial flair the support and financial backing they need to create their own business opportunities.

The Student Placements for Entrepreneurs in Education West Midlands (SPEED WM) programme gave 30 students the opportunity to set up their own business whilst they are at university. In addition to financial support worth up to £4,500, participants get 10 hours of coaching from a qualified business mentor, plus business training and use of incubation space at Wolverhampton Science Park.

The University of Wolverhampton also manages the project regionally for the partner institutions, which are the universities of Aston, Birmingham, Birmingham City, Coventry, Keele, Staffordshire and Worcester.