Model: Find and Fund
The programme has been delivered through Coventry University's Institute for Applied Entrepreneurship and has dovetailed in with a range of enterprise opportunities being offered. They were awarded the Times Higher Education Award of 'Enterprising University of the Year 2011/12' and have a well-developed portfolio of support and mentoring. Funding opportunities for entrepreneurs range from proof of concept funds through to significant investment opportunities. It considers itself to be fairly new to funding and supporting businesses in the social sector. However, there are pockets of excellence across the University, and the social enterprise movement at Coventry is gaining some senior level leadership.
One of the first challenges facing the Delivery Team was how to effectively promote the Programme. This was about more than simply making students and staff aware of the available Awards, but explaining and raising the profile of social enterprise more generally within the UEL community. Colleagues in the Student Union were encouraged to signpost students working on voluntary and community projects to the Enterprise Team to assess their eligibility for support. Colleagues in the Cass School of Education were notified of the programme and were invited to share this information with their students, particularly those on the BA Social Enterprise course of study. These relationships formed part of the wider process of initiating fruitful conversations between social and commercial enterprise. UEL's Centre of Excellence for Women's Entrepreneurship were informed of the project and supported the dissemination of information about it among the members of its distinct network, again to the benefit of the Programme and the wider social enterprise sector.
Social enterprise is seen as part of a partnership strategy to enhance social and economic development of the region. During the Programme, a strategic partnership event hosted by the Vice Chancellor, Madeleine Atkins, attracted in excess of 90 delegates. These included all senior management members, staff from across all faculties, members of the City Council, police and local support agencies. It offered opportunities to enhance social leadership capacity through raising awareness of social enterprise approaches, impacts and access to investment. It also provided the space to consider how the University can lead in the area of Social Entrepreneurship for the benefit of young people and ultimately for the City itself. Guest participants included UnLtd, Can Invest, Baker Tilly and Bates Wells Braithwaites LLP. This strategic approach has resulted in a strengthened strategic plan for embedding social enterprise activity within the HEI and an evolving partnership to enable place-based initiatives to thrive externally as new national frameworks for driving regeneration activity through Local Economic and Enterprise Partnerships start to take shape.
Coventry has delivered a successful HE Support Programme with an overall awards pot of £30,000 being awarded to 10 social entrepreneurs.