Leeds Business Week 2014 – Win win for university graduates and small businesses

October 21, 2014

By Nassr Adris

A scheme to place graduates with small businesses at no expense to the firms was outlined at Leeds Business Week.

Leeds Beckett’s programme took place on Wednesday (15th October) with reps Janet Mulcrone and Anne-Marie Gallagher presenting the different ways the university can aid developing businesses.

Methods included Growth Vouchers – a scheme set up by the government – which offers strategic advice on a wide range of business departments such as finance, marketing and product development. The government will fund up to £2k for training or advice.

Also mentioned were the European funded Yorkshire Fund project worth £8.2m and the Small Innovation Project and the Research and Development Project Vouchers.

Anne-Marie explained: “Businesses have used their vouchers for training, the vouchers can be tailored.”
However, the scheme the university is perhaps trying to push most is the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP), as it benefits the university as much as it does the small business.

This scheme hands over a graduate to a small business but pays for their salary. The graduate gains experience and brings new ideas to help the small business grow and the university improves its graduate employment statistics. Annual budgets per project can reach up to £60k but it is partly funded by the government.

Janet Mulcrone explained the process: “Many past initiatives have been on food and drink projects, depending on the sector, a lecturer in that field will join a business.”

So KTP is effectively an employment scheme for graduates – people looking for their first career job. A study by the Council of Industry and Higher Education (CIHE) shows that five KTP involved businesses gave evidence of value being added to nine areas of their business.

Simon Edwards, a mobile app business owner, attended the short presentation and has already worked with graduates. When asked what has impressed him so far regarding the graduates, he replied: “It’s not really the technical skills, it’s the fact that they’ve made the effort to meet up. They’ve shown an interest which shows they’ve got something about them.”

The business directors stressed the importance of businesses learning to “survive, grow and stand out from the crowd.”

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