The Future of Entrepreneurship: a Birkbeck/Santander project

The subject of student entrepreneurship and how it can be encouraged and supported during, and even after, the period a student is at Birkbeck is something that has been explored historically by CIMR.

Birkbeck’s Dr Renos Savva, having experienced start-up life as the founder of Domainex Ltd. – a successful growth biotech now based in Cambridge, UK – had assisted at board level in the early days of the Student Start-up Hub, at the request of Prof Helen Lawton Smith and then Entrepreneur in Residence at Birkbeck, Andrew Atter.

Dr Savva recently returned to the theme of entrepreneurial activity at Birkbeck at the request of Birkbeck Futures on a mini project funded by Birkbeck’s corporate partner for student entrepreneurship and employability, Santander.

The idea developed by Dr Savva in consultation with Mohsin Aboobaker and Jenna Davies from Birkbeck Futures, was to conduct interviews with a variety of sources to gather data on what funders, entrepreneurs and students thought the role of HEI in student entrepreneurial activity ought to be. Jenna Davies cultivates and coordinates the entrepreneurship activity at Birkbeck.

A research team was assembled to expand the number of potential interviews within the time frame. The team comprised three recent life sciences PhD graduates from UCL, who were known to Dr Savva through his courses at Birkbeck, and who were suited to making the most of interviews in the area of interest via their immediate pursuit of careers in business consultancy and law. A secondary team, comprising two current students of the MSc Bio-business programme were tasked with understanding the student entrepreneurship picture (provision/ support) in HE around UK and the EU.

Baldeep Hothi, assisted by Lucy Robinson, were the Birkbeck Futures’ coordination and contact point for the research team. A series of strategic and team level meetings kept the project on track and defined new questions as the data came in.

The report, containing a distillation of the research after its analysis, is available via the Birkbeck Futures website, and was showcased at a roundtable meeting ahead of the Santander student entrepreneurship awards at Birkbeck.

Recently, Birkbeck and Santander signed an extension to their now 10-year strategic partnership. The future for student entrepreneurship support at Birkbeck is now once again, rightly in the spotlight, as befits this HEI with a mission and history of progressive inclusion of students for the benefit of society at large.