DMU shortlisted as Outstanding Entrepreneurial University of the Year

De Montfort University Leicester (DMU) has been nominated for a national award for its work to develop an entrepreneurial mindset and champion innovation.

The Times Higher Education (THE) Awards – dubbed the ‘Oscars’ of higher education – showcase the very best work taking place in UK universities in teaching, research and knowledge exchange.


DMU has been nominated for Outstanding Entrepreneurial University of the Year which recognises universities that have ‘developed and delivered an exceptional approach to embedding entrepreneurship within its culture and programmes’.  

DMU’s focus on enterprise is guided by its new Empowering University strategy, which put a raft of new ideas into action over the 2020/21 academic year.

While Leicester remained in lockdown – the longest enforced Covid-19 closure of any UK city – DMU ramped up its programme of events for students, SMEs and members of the public.

To further develop the entrepreneurial culture within the university, each of the four faculties appointed a Faculty Enterprise Lead to co-ordinate knowledge exchange activities and support interdisciplinary work. Regular training workshops were run online to upskill academics keen to learn more about working with businesses. And a new Knowledge Exchange and Professorial Practice pathway was also created in recognition of the breadth of expertise that knowledge exchange professionals bring to academia.

Helen Donnellan, PVC Regional Business and Innovation, said: “It is great news that DMU has been nominated for such a prestigious award.

“This nomination highlights the tremendous work done across DMU to create a culture of enterprise. It celebrates our ability to work together to help students develop entrepreneurial skills and start businesses, champion our staff and alumni in their journey of innovation, and support start-ups and businesses in our community to grow and succeed.

“Leicester is already well known as a hotspot for entrepreneurs and this is national recognition of DMU’s role in this.”

DMU used its Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF) allocation, which is awarded by the Government, to enable activities that ultimately drive growth and support the economy.

The DMUworks Entrepreneurship team significantly expanded the student entrepreneurship offer, creating new bootcamp courses, TEDx conferences, guest lectures from entrepreneurs, 1-1 sessions and start-up schools.

Between them those programmes have attracted hundreds of students and graduates and their work saw DMU named one of the top 10 UK universities for student and graduate start-ups in 2022.

Its DMUmade entrepreneurship programme, starting in October, aims to support current students and new graduates in developing entrepreneurial and intrapreneurial skills via a series of practical workshops.

Simon Baines, DMU Entrepreneurship team manager, said: "In these challenging times, having entrepreneurial skills can greatly benefit our students and graduates, whether they are looking to start their own business or simply want to enhance their employability by applying these skills within a job role.”  

In addition, DMU’s business incubation programme, The Crucible, was also nominated for (and later won) an award for its in-depth business start-up support, and DMU’s Leicester Castle Business School delivered free leadership and management skills to some 84 companies in and around the city, helping them to grow their business.

THE judges shortlisted just six universities for the award, looking at activity run between August 2020 and August 2021. DMU is up against the University of Central Lancashire, London School of Economics, London South Bank University, Robert Gordon University and the University of Strathclyde.

John Gill, THE’s editor, said the awards will “reflect universities doing extraordinary things in extraordinary times, when the pandemic continued to force higher education and all who work in it to respond to an unprecedented challenge.

“That universities did so with alacrity and creativity is clear from the truly exceptional stories told in the awards submissions,” Mr Gill added.

This year’s awards will again be presented at the Hilton London Metropole on the evening of 17 November. The ceremony will follow the two-day THE Campus Live UK & IE event, held at the same venue.

Posted on Thursday 1 September 2022

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