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The Worldwide Universities Network showcased the impressive growth and impact of the WUN Enterprise initiative at their Annual Global Meeting in Washington DC this April. Presenters Kimberly Sugden, Associate Director, Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership and Richard Williams, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Enterprise, Knowledge Transfer and International Strategy, University of Leeds highlighted successful outcomes and visionary aims of the initiative.
Dr. David Pilsbury, Chief Executive Officer of the WUN, comments on the international impact of WUN Enterprise, “It is extremely impressive that in the past six months since the initiative has launched, over 167 individuals have been involved with WUN Enterprise activities, spanning over 72 unique universities and organizations. This has a tremendous outreach impact for each of the WUN institutions, as research and teaching partnerships strengthen and add value back to enterprise in higher education. This is a very exciting time for the WUN Enterprise initiative, and we are very proud to be strengthening global collaborations.”
The WUN Enterprise initiative delivers unique value to academics/faculty, students, researchers, administrators, alumni and other external organizations/companies, because it provides the first forum in which to establish, compare, contrast and disseminate entrepreneurial development and best-practices across a network of global universities. As an established global organization with a track record in fostering effective interdisciplinary international relationships, the WUN provides a strong base for cross-institutional collaboration in both social and commercial enterprise fields. WUN partners and their associates include some of the strongest research and educational centers in the enterprise field. The creation of the “Mandate for Global Enterprise” will seek to identify major emerging opportunities and needs in this area to help us plan future initiatives across WUN.
The global focus of WUN Enterprise connects leading national organizations into a central worldwide network, where partnerships in teaching, research and program administration can be strengthened and showcased. Additionally, the series of WUN Enterprise conferences in Chicago, Leeds, and Hangzhou have brought together international colleagues and opened critical dialogue about the growing role of entrepreneurship education and outreach. The significant outcomes and strategic proposals of the inaugural conference series will serve as a catalyst for future international events.
In fact, over one hundred scholars and industry representatives gathered to identify and explore issues surrounding the development of ‘global entrepreneurs.’ at The WUN International Entrepreneurship Conference held at the University of Leeds in December 2007. Tony Mendes and Kimberly Sugden of the Academy presented on the strategy behind the Nascent Entrepreneur Workshops.
Professor Williams commented on the impact of the Leeds enterprise conference, “the forum helped us to appreciate that enterprise is a key part of developing the international experience of students and staff. Just as meeting people from different countries enriches the learning and social experiences of our university community, the topic of “global enterprise” provides a platform for working out a range of quite deep international issues. The Leeds conference included one theme around the role of networks to identify global opportunities for conglomerating national businesses to develop them for global markets. Based on the experience of a Leeds alumnus, the case study of Consensus was presented, showing how global thinking coupled with effective networks could lead to substantial new global opportunities.”
The meeting also provided examples of how key societal issues can be used as a framework to enhance the visibility and impact of academic entrepreneurs on society. For example, the role of a university seeking to accelerate its influence on society through development of environmental spin-outs was used as a case example. It showed how encouragement of innovative ideas addressing global concerns (energy, poverty, transport, capacity building in poorer countries, health etc) could develop distinctive portfolios of companies. Interchanging information on innovation in some of these specific areas will be an area for future development of the WUN Enterprise initiative.
Strategic partnerships with leading entrepreneurial organizations are very central to the mission of WUN Enterprise, and the Leeds Conference was fortunate to include a presentation from renowned enterprise scholar, Professor Paul Hannon, Director of Research & Education of the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship (NCGE). Professor Hannon confirmed that students’ appetites for programmes in enterprise and innovation are growing all the time, “Today’s students don’t expect to have a career for life and are astute enough to know that they need much broader business skills that make them more attractive to potential employers.”
The message from the meeting was a strong endorsement that there is an appetite for entrepreneurial activity in social networking, not-for-profit and commercial entities. Staff and students have a desire to develop international dimensions to this and developing the skills to have conversations with other innovators in other countries was perceived to be very important for the community. Delegates particularly enjoyed hearing entrepreneurial lessons from keynote dinner speaker, Dr Victor Watson, whose company Waddingtons (games) had global impact in development of several products not least its role in the development of the popular board game “Monopoly.”
The growth of the WUN Enterprise initiative is capturing the attention and enthusiasm of educators and researchers in entrepreneurship around the world. Each of our institutional partners has grown tremendously because of the relationships and outcomes of the enterprise achievements, and the resulting impact on higher education. “We are collating our learning from these events to develop some guidance for our governments and businesses since WUN Enterprise is leading out in this area of multi-lateral partnerships,” commented Professor Williams. “We look forward to working with the Academy for Entrepreneurial Leadership in pioneering these outcomes and creating more faculty and graduates who are equipped for effective global citizenship. The story has only just begun.”