The University of Gloucestershire is hoping to find the next Richard Branson or Karren Brady by launching the first University of Gloucestershire Enterprise Awards.

Enterprising staff and students, current and past, are being encouraged to submit nominations in one of six categories and local businesses who have forged relationships with the University and supported enterprise activity will also be celebrated in the Awards which are being launched this week (22 Nov).

High profile Gloucestershire businesses including Gloucestershire Media, Bottlegreen, Ecotricity and Cheltenham Racecourse are offering their support for the Awards, recognising the role that enterprise plays in the county’s economy. The judging panel will include individuals with a range of expertise in business and enterprise.

Ecotricity ambassador, Helen Taylor is one of the judges.  Helen said: “We are exceptionally keen to support entrepreneurialism, especially when close to home and I am delighted to be on the University judging panel.”

Baroness Rennie Fritchie, DBE will also lend her expertise to the judging panel.  Baroness Fritchie has had a long career specialising in training and development and amongst other activities chairs the NHS 2gether Foundation Trust and Chair of the Board of Nominet, the .uk Registry.

 “Innovation is about new thinking and may come from a big idea but more often comes from someone with an enquiring mind and lots of determination who doesn’t give up when the way ahead is not clear.  These awards are about people who make a difference and will themselves make a real difference in the county,” added Baroness Fritchie.

The panel will be chaired by Kevan Blackadder, Editor of the Gloucestershire Echo.
“It’s crucial for both the University and Gloucestershire as a whole that students and academics work closely with the county’s businesses. I’m delighted to be involved with the awards because I’m confident they will help recognise this growing relationship,” said Kevan.

David Owen, Chief Executive of Gloucestershire First has voiced his support for the Awards:
“This new initiative by the University of Gloucestershire underpins a real commitment to enterprise and innovation.  At the very heart of the future success of Gloucestershire’s economy will be innovative and enterprising businesses developed by individuals with a passion to succeed.  The University of Gloucestershire’s Enterprise Awards recognise those individuals and organisations who are already striving to achieve, many of whom will provide the growth and innovation that our economy will depend upon.”

Chief Executive and Vice-Chancellor Paul Hartley added:
“We are delighted to be launching this new initiative which will recognise the achievements of our most enterprising colleagues, students, alumni and partners. Universities have a central function as knowledge generators and play a vital role in contributing to the country’s economic growth as well as preparing students for the world of work.” 

“Nurturing our local and regional communities, engaging with and developing an enterprising environment for our staff and students are key themes that run through the University’s strategic priorities.”

“The establishment of our Enterprise Awards firmly acknowledges the role the University has in encouraging enterprising behaviour, bringing practitioners and business into the classroom, and keeping our teaching and research innovative and commercially relevant.”

The winners will be announced at a ceremony at the Park campus in June 2011 as one of a range of events taking place to celebrate the tenth anniversary of gaining university status.  Winners of the University’s Business Planning Programme, known as BUG will also be revealed.  The BUG programme supports University staff, students, alumni and local people with an ambition to start their own business, helping them achieve their goals through a series of interactive workshops, one-to-one entrepreneur mentoring and culminating in a ‘Dragons’ Den’-style competition.

The six categories for the new Enterprise Awards are as follows:

• Enterprising Student Award
For enterprising undergraduate and postgraduate students currently studying at the University of Gloucestershire

• Enterprising Staff Awards
For individuals demonstrating enterprising behaviour, developing new enterprise solutions or facilitating others to be enterprising, open to all University of Gloucestershire staff

• Enterprise Legacy Award
For individuals who were formerly staff or students at the University who have gone on to achieve success with an enterprising scheme or business

• Employer Partner of the Year
For employers who have offered valuable and valued enterprise support, to enable University students and staff to develop their enterprise experience.

• Employer Mentor of the Year
For individuals who have offered valued support to University students through the employee mentoring scheme, BUG or other programmes.

• Enterprise Partner of the Year
For enterprise support agencies who have offered support, whether to students, staff
  or alumni of the University.

Application forms with the full criteria for each category can be requested from the website, by emailing [email protected] or calling 01242 714104.

The establishment of the University’s Enterprise Awards forms part of the enabling cultural change programme run by the Centre for Enterprise and Innovation (CEI), aimed at increasing the University’s capacity to respond to and take full advantage of opportunities for enterprise. 

The University’s strategic plan states its intention to ‘establish distinctive University of Gloucestershire graduate attributes in respect of employability skills, enterprise, sustainability and capacity to change and adapt.’ The strategy is aligned with the Department for Business Innovation & Skills (BIS) aspiration for the higher education sector to play an important role in supporting business in the economic downturn.

Source: University of Gloucestershire