The DragonsOver-hyped they may be, but the BBC’s hit TV show has brought something of Britain’s inventive culture to a mass audience for the first time. And, in bursts, it’s helped to educate millions about the ruthlessness required to be an entrepreneur. Deborah Meaden, Theo Paphitis et al have backed success stories such as Levi Roots’s Reggae Reggae Sauce. But they’ve also overlooked a few gems – like Natalie Ellis, who’s cracked the States with her non-spill dog bowl and counts Barack Obama as one happy customer. In total, the Dragons have invested £8m. Entrepreneur-academicsThey don’t enjoy the limelight of the big-name spokespeople and entrepreneurs, but at business schools and universities across the UK, there’s a raft of entrepreneur-academics articulating the essentials to a hungry generation of students increasingly aware that, in a tight labour market, individual capitalism makes big sense. Spotlighting individuals is invidious, but the prominent few include: Professor John Thompson, Roger M Bale Professor of Entrepreneurship at the University of Huddersfield, who opened the Huddersfield Business Generator; Professor David Storey at the Warwick Business School, who’s been committed to the enterprise culture for many years; and Shai Vyakarnam, director of the Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning at Cambridge’s Judge Institute.
British LibraryThe British Library launched its Business & IP Centre in March 2006 to support entrepreneurs, investors and small businesses through the process of launching and developing a business. During the past three years, more than 100,000 entrepreneurs have used the centre, attending advice sessions, workshops and events, e-courses and webcasts, and accessing the UK’s most comprehensive collection of business and intellectual property databases and publications. Described in Doug Richard’s report on business support as a “model” for such initiatives, many argue that such centres should be rolled out across the UK (see our Saving Britain’s Future feature on page 21).
David IrwinAs stated in his citation for a Queen’s Award (which he won) this year, Irwin has a “long history of enterprise promotion”. Irwin was the first CEO of the government’s Small Business Service, where he was responsible for SME programmes and was a voice for small business within the government. He stepped down from that role in March 2002 but, being the determined campaigner for enterprise he is, Irwin still holds positions such as trustee of the Northern Youth Venture Fund, director of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and of Sunderland Youth Enterprise Trust.
Check back tomorrow for more champions of entrepreneurial Britain. Tell us who you’d like to see on our list of enterprise heroes by posting a comment below.