Newly released HEBCI figures show that universities in the UK contributed £3.4 billion to the economy in 2011-12 through services to business, including commercialisation of new knowledge, delivery of professional training and consultancy. These comprise part of a much wider economic impact. There is much to celebrate.
One of the measures reported on is graduate start-ups. As described and demonstrated in our recent project Start-up: a story this is an area where Alliance universities and their graduates are leading the way. The figures out this week show that across the sector employment has increased to 13,600 with 1800 more jobs created. There has also been an increase in turnover from graduate start-ups. This is a testament to our graduates and universities turning business ideas into reality and driving economic growth.
However, we cannot take this growth for granted. The figures out this week also showed a drop for the first time in recent years in the number of new businesses starting up. In our report made some recommendations to help get us back on track.
Access to finance, knowledge and skills are commonly identified as key barriers to starting up. We believe there are some simple actions Government can take to help more people start-up and grow their business.
- Build stronger links between Government financing for enterprise and universities, so that they are able to inform the design of schemes, such as StartUp Loans, to ensure that those that would benefit from this support are better able to do so.
- Widen access to critical enterprise support available for graduate start-ups to enable enterprise growth across all key sectors.
- Target money from the new national fund for local enterprise to strengthen local networks and provision of university support for graduate start-ups.
- Pro-actively use and promote empty properties for the use of graduate start-ups, helping to nurture local start-ups.
- Recognise entrepreneurship as a legitimate graduate career, reflecting it more fully in employment and business data.