In its 10th year, Manchester Enterprise Centre's Enterprise School took place in Grange-over-Sands from 2 - 5 July 2018. 32 postgraduate students attended from across The University of Manchester with the aim of identifying societal problems and pitching business ideas to address them.
The emphasis of this year's Enterprise School was on practical application and students spent a lot of time in the town speaking with local residents to gain a deeper understanding of the issues faced by local people, businesses and visitors. Students identified several problems in the area – of the large number of retirees; many were lonely and had varying levels of disabilities affecting mental and physical health. Many had pets but there was little provision for them to meet other pet owners. Grange-over-Sands has a small tourism industry despite being an attractive Edwardian seaside town located close to the Lake District, and the students also noticed a lack of activities after 5pm compounding this.
The students concentrated on identifying problems and spotting opportunities, market research, sources of funding, understanding costs and putting together an effective pitch presentation. As a result of this work, the group learned about different team roles and how they could work together more effectively and were encouraged to record events as part of reflective practice.
Students enjoyed working with those from other subject areas across the University such as cancer and stem cell research, fashion retailing, mechanical engineering, environmental planning and business. A major benefit of the Enterprise School is learning to utilise other people’s skills better in a team environment.
The students were aided by tutors, themselves from diverse backgrounds, including Dr Robert Phillips, Dr Martin Henery and Jon Styles from Manchester Enterprise Centre and Dr Jim Boran from Researcher Development. Additional support was provided by entrepreneurs San Tou (LDM Group), Amy Win (4Lunch) and George Konsta (Social Growth) who took part in a hectic ‘Speed Mentoring’ session as well as informal networking sessions.
The ideas pitched on the final day included bulk buying energy to cut down on energy bills for retirees and using some of the profits to invest in solar energy and a pet café to encourage pet owners to interact. The winning pitch proposed matching retirees with international students to relieve loneliness and to help students gain English language skills. Many of the ideas identified resources in the local area which could be tapped into including the derelict lido, empty properties in the town centre and the abundant sunshine.
More than 300 students have attended the Enterprise School since it started in 2009. The skills gained and outcomes from previous years are discussed in a report by the Asia Entrepreneurship Journal. The report found that several students had started their own business within a year, and almost all students were using their new skills whether they were in a commercial or academic position.
For more details about the Enterprise School, contact Dr Robert A. Phillips: firstname.lastname@example.org