Enterprise and Innovation with the University of Chester

The University of Chester has teamed up with a private company that specialises in enterprise and innovation to deliver a programme to train the entrepreneurs of the future.

Enterprise opportunities for entrepreneurs and teachers will be delivered thanks to a new arrangement between the University and the Innovation Lab. Working through the Work Based Integrative Studies programme (WBIS), the University is supporting this dynamic company, which has won contracts to support staff working in schools and colleges to develop students as entrepreneurs using an action-oriented, experiential approach.

The University has also recently accredited Post Graduate Certificates in Innovation and in Enterprise Facilitation that will be co-delivered with the Innovation Lab.

The aim of the awards is to equip teachers with the knowledge and skills they need to teach enterprise and innovation. This will be done in a framework of support where the learner is mentored in the application of their own learning on the programme towards their own business idea. This, together with the need to understand innovation and enterprise determines the content and teaching methodology which the qualifications are based on. The qualifications are designed to grow a cohort of specialist teachers who able to impart to their students the confidence to have ideas and the ability to convert them into valid proposals for new products, services or organisational processes as entrepreneurs or as innovative employees.

The content and approach embodied by the award is based on extensive development work, practical experience and observation by the Directors of Innovation Lab, Professor David Auckland and Tracey Minogue, who have developed a range of programmes that have been well received by teaching staff and OFSTED.

With a backdrop of economic and governmental pressure to teach innovation and enterprise and the Innovation Lab’s success in developing curricula and teacher training programmes, the co-operation between Innovation Lab and the University of Chester, with its leading edge WBIS framework, was a natural development.

The first WBIS Enterprise Facilitation programme started in February 2011 at Tameside College, Ashton-under-Lyne in Greater Manchester, where an initial cohort of 17 teaching staff registered for the award. The programme dovetails well at the College with the creation of a new Innovation Centre. In December 2010, Tameside College was recognised as a Centre of Excellence for Enterprise, one of only three colleges nationally to gain this accolade by the UK Sector Skills Body for Enterprise (SFEDI). This centre, opening in Autumn 2011, will provide incubation space as well as providing facilities where new entrepreneurs will be supported to turn their ideas into a viable business.

Professor David Auckland and Tracey Minogue, Directors of Innovation Lab, said: “We are really proud to be engaging with the University's Centre for Work Related Studies. Its expertise in work based learning and our own background in enterprise and innovation has helped create a series of unique programmes - and these are designed to give people the confidence and skills to embark on innovative and entrepreneurial initiatives.”

Senior Lecturer at the University of Chester, Jeremy Peach, said: 'The University is delighted to work in co-operation with Innovation Lab. We have established one of the first Masters level qualifications in enterprise and innovation and it helps budding innovators to develop their services and products. It will also help develop the economy both locally and nationally'.