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North West Enterprise Schools 2012


Lancaster NWES: 24-27 March, Marriott Hotel, Preston

Manchester NWES: 10-13 July, Best Western Castle, Bassenthwaite, Keswick

Less than 20% of PhD students end up in academia. Therefore, the North West Enterprise Schools aim to increase the employability of Ph.D. students and research staff by improving their enterprise skills in a highly interactive, group working environment, tutored by experts and guest entrepreneurs. Attendees will be from a number of different universities in the North of England. Each School will offer a similar set of opportunities to gain important knowledge and experience of enterprise: development of the underlying personal skills necessary for enterprise; experience of the process of developing and pitching a business plan; an understanding of enterprise in a variety of contexts, including start-ups, consultancies, social enterprise, and larger organisations; and an exposure to the sorts of demands you are likely to encounter in the private and non-profit sectors.

Attendees at last year's schools said:

‘The idea of socially responsible industry really effected my thinking ... the enterprise school gave me a great deal to think about in respect to myself as an enterprise...’  Mark McGlashan 2011

‘If it wasn't because of the North West Enterprise School in Preston, I might not have pushed myself into it at this stage of my life’ Avi Nandwani, having set up his own business after North West Enterprise School 2011

‘I learnt so much over the week away about myself and with regard to the complexities of business start-up and group dynamics’ Angela Carradus, NWES 2011

This opportunity is open to any PhD student and/or researcher from a North West University, but please note places are limited and require a commitment to attend for the whole School. Each school is briefly listed below with contact details.


Lancaster NWES - limited number of free places available for Lancaster research students

Event Overview

This is a four day residential workshop for research students and post-docs followed by online collaboration and a final weekend residential. You will engage in a series of team-working challenges and entrepreneurial project work. Employers, mentors and skilled tutors facilitate a working environment designed to create projects, enhance skills, create networks and develop ideas into tangible projects. The school allows participants to develop themselves in a safe environment while working together on real projects and enterprise related activities. After the four day residential the course continues for a period of five weeks of online collaboration during which participants will be expected to give a minimum of two hours a week to team activities. The whole course reaches a climax with the second residential weekend May 5-6 when the teams complete their projects and present their findings back to a panel of employers.

Is this course right for you?

Researchers used to the academic environment are sometimes wary of enterprise but all of the activities on the enterprise school are designed with the researcher in mind showing them pathways for alternative careers , ways in which they can enhance their research and how to bring essential research business processes into any workplace. The course will also focus on social enterprise as well as intra and entrepreneurialism. Research projects are increasingly centred on multiple collaborations with other universities (often abroad) and with business partners. These large collaborations produce mutually beneficial outputs for all involved and the school will develop the sort of collaborative behaviours that are required to thrive in such an environment. These kinds of skills are planning, working with others, critical thinking, analysis, innovation, time management, risk analysis, IP issues and general enthusiasm and creativity.

In the forthcoming Research Excellence Framework (REF) all of the skills and behaviours that course will seek to develop are central to the Impact factors that must contribute to 20% of an institution’s REF submission. In a world where resources for research are being stretched collaboration with business will form a growing part of the resource that researchers will need to conduct their projects.

You will be

  • someone comfortable with the research environment but also who embraces change
  • someone looking for something different in or outside of research
  • interested in making a difference
  • someone who wants to make ideas happen
  • someone who enjoys meeting and working with others
  • someone who enjoys learning by doing
  • interested in enterprise (in all its forms) as a career choice

What will it involve?

There will be little formal input in terms of lectures or instruction. Activities will take place within a format designed to lead participants over the duration of the whole course to independent group work where they own and are responsible for their project and its output. One of the main purposes of the course is to put researchers in direct contact with employers, mentors, and entrepreneurs of all kinds so that each party can learn from the other.  You will need a personal computer to access the online section of the course.

What’s in it for you?

  • Meet, and work with a range of researchers from a variety of disciplines and career stages
  • Explore collaboration within the research, knowledge exchange and enterprise environments
  • Have the opportunity to develop enterprise skills in a variety of settings from the commercial to the public sector and from social enterprise to academia
  • Opportunity to show and develop influence and leadership skills
  • Opportunity to challenge yourself and others in a friendly and safe environment away from the pressures of your research.
  • Opportunity to reflect on your own skills, ambitions, capabilities and career direction


The course is open to all early career researchers either research degree students or first contract post-doctoral researchers.


The course is run by Lancaster University and the University of Liverpool. If you are a researcher from these two institutions your place is paid for, however the numbers are limited, so please apply now to avoid disappointment. If you are a member of another Northern University it may be that you can also gain a free place. You do not have to be funded by a research council to attend this course.

Venue Information

Both residential periods (24-27 March and 5-6 May) will take place at the Preston Marriott Hotel and Spa on the outskirts of Preston by the junction of the M55 and M6 in the village of Broughton.

How to Book:

Manchester NWES - funding available to support a limited number of Lancaster students

The Manchester Enterprise School is a four day residential enterprise school managed by the University of Manchester as part of the Northern Enterprise Schools initiative and will be taking place at Best Western Castle, Bassenthwaite, Keswick, Lake District, from Tuesday 10 to Friday 13 July 2012 for 35 postgraduate and postdoctoral researchers.

The Enterprise School aims to increase the employability of Ph.D. students and research staff by improving their enterprise skills in a highly interactive, group working environment, tutored by experts and guest entrepreneurs. Attendees will be from a number of different universities in the North of England.

The Enterprise School is open to all PhD students or research staff from any faculty. The school will be an excellent opportunity to learn about enterprise and innovation and how to apply it to your work, whether you intend a career in academia, industry or start your own business. It will also be a chance to network with your peers at other universities and improve your team working skills.

Attendees will work in groups on their own ideas and produce a “Dragons Den” style pitch at the end of the course. Along the way, to guide the groups will be sessions covering opportunity recognition, market research, intellectual property, basic finance and team building. The sessions will be interactive and aim to encourage networking and working with others from different faculties and universities. There will also be guest entrepreneurs and other experts in attendance to provide input to each group as well as live access to patent information, market research databases etc via the internet.

Feedback from previous events has been excellent, with attendees finding it both useful and the whole experience very enjoyable. Many attendees have kept in touch via social networking on their return to their own institutions.

For more details contact Dr Robert A. Phillips ( or to book your free place contact Claire Gill ( Please also inform if you are interested in the Manchester Enterprise School.

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Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Graduate School, Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences
Lancaster University
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United Kingdom

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