At UCL we have just formally launched our enterprise strategy. Many think university enterprise refers simply to commercialisation of university activities for the purpose of making money. But enterprise is much more than that and plays a central role in the mission of our universities. Here are just three ways in which enterprise can help make a difference to the academic mission.
1. In teaching and learning - enterprise activities can enhance the learning experience for students and improve their chances of securing employment.
Work placements and industrially relevant projects can be used to enhance most academic programmes by providing a real life context for learning and for honing transferable skills such as presentation and problem solving.
2. In research - engagement with businesses is often essential to fulfill the ultimate objective of the research.
Sometimes a partnership is essential for the development of an invention or discovery into something of general use for society. An example is in pharmaceuticals where working in collaboration with a pharmaceutical company is almost certainly essential for developing a new medicine from a basic research discovery.
3. Society - enterprise can ensure that society benefits from academic activities
Universities are sources of new knowledge and talented people and both are necessary to sustain a knowledge-based economy. By effective use of enterprise activities we can enhance the capability of the graduate workforce and increase the number of graduate entrepreneurs. By encouraging effective collaboration with external organisations, in research, training or provision of facilities, we can enhance the global competitiveness of businesses located in the UK. This is essential for economic growth and sustainable prosperity.
In summary - university enterprise can and does enhance the core activities of teaching and research and can help maximise the societal benefit of academia. It can also generate significant new income, and of course we need that to continue to support students and sustain our research.
But universities are not about making money - they are about making a difference
UCL Enterprise strategy: www.ucl.ac.uk/enterprise