On Wednesday 25 May Aston University played host to a regional event run by UnLtd, a charity supporting social entrepreneurs. The event which was entitled “Growing Your Social Venture” was held at Lakeside Conference Centre and was attended by more than 40 social entrepreneurs, including a number who had already received awards from the organisation.
The welcome on behalf of the University was given by Peter Shearer, Director – Business Partnership Unit and Lauren Croll Development Manager (HEI Social Enterprise Programme) talked about the aims of the programme and how UnLtd is working with Universities.
There were presentations on Effective Use of Social Media for Social Enterprise, Funding Your Social Enterprise and Tips on Pitching given by guest speakers and then a chance for participants to network.
Feedback from the participants was very positive. Comments included: ‘Brilliant, highly informative’, ‘I’ve learnt how important and effective social media is and how to reach my clients and boost my project’, ‘interesting and most useful’, ‘very insightful, great to have insider knowledge’, ‘exceptionally engaging’, ‘excellent whistle stop’
UnLtd, the Foundation for Social Entrepreneurs, and the Higher Education Funding Council for England (HEFCE) joined forces to launch an awards scheme to promote and recognise social entrepreneurship activity in higher education.
Through the HE Social Entrepreneurship Awards scheme, higher education institutions have been encouraged to develop their enterprise skills in supporting activities that have a social purpose (for example: the environment, healthcare, education, social cohesion, fair trade and micro-finance). The scheme provided staff and students with support and funding for enterprising new ventures. The Awards, were provided as a grant with applications across an 18-month period underpinned by an investment of nearly £1 million through HEFCE’s Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF).
Aston University has worked closely with UnLtd on a number of projects including Aston Idol 2011. UnLtd has given 55 Catalyst awards across midlands universities and 5 of these awards were given to staff and students at Aston University.
For more information on UnLtd go to www.unltd.org.uk.
Words by Claire Girle and Lauren Croll
31 May 2011