Northampton University to be ‘Silicon Valley’ for social enterprise

‘Social entrepreneur in residence’ set to spearhead groundbreaking plan

The University of Northampton is set to become the “Silicon Valley” of UK social enterprise, according to a new five-year plan outlined in the House of Lords yesterday.

The three-part “Raising The Bar” strategy, the first of its kind in the UK, will give all Northampton undergraduates the opportunity to take part in a social enterprise initiative as part of their degree course, while providing bursaries to business-minded students. 

Wray Irwin, director at Social Enterprise East Midlands, has been appointed as a ‘social entrepreneur in residence’ to oversee the programme.

The university will also look at ways to further focus on social enterprise and decentralisation values in its teaching, learning and research.

The strategy, spearheaded by professor Nick Petford, vice-chancellor of the University, also outlines ambitious new plans for the new inSpirE Northamptonshire scheme, which aims to take advantage of the government’s Localism Bill by providing Northampton businesses with social enterprise skills.

The four-year inSpirE project strives to identify ways that the private sector, policy-makers and other universities can work with the scheme to improve the sector.

Professor Simon Denny, the new social enterprise development director of Northampton University, explained: “Social enterprise is apolitical and we have seen both the Labour and the coalition government pursue ambitious agendas in this area. We wanted to be the first university to step into the breach and take advantage of what we see as a growing need for social enterprise skills.

“We see a lot of students who are leaving university and not going on to graduate-level jobs. One of the aims of the initiative is to tackle this by helping students develop, as part of their degree, vital enterprise skills that will improve their employability – as well as helping them earn some much-needed money in the process.”




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