What is a student enterprise?

A student enterprise can be defined as where students engage with real industry practise while at a higher education institution (HEI), ie student enterprises exist at the crossover of the three areas.

The forms of student enterprises include spin out commercial companies, company-like entities within an HEI and curriculum/industry linked projects. There are examples of each across the IoC, with differing aims and relationships between the students and industry partners.

Based on a literature review, five 'archetypes' of student enterprises can be identified, as shown in the EPIC² model:

  • Employment
    Students experience work, and often earn, within a professional environment; grades are rarely earned and internships are often extra curricular and awarded after a recruitment process.

  • Prizes
    Either a prize can be won for attainment - or a scholarship can be won to fund the best proposal.

  • Innovation
    Innovation processes, such as Lean Startup, are practised that aim to discover sustainable enterprises where none are currently known to exist.

  • Curriculum
    All students on a module engage with (typically) domain expert clients to clarify/satisfy their requirement/s. Students 'earn' marks for their module/course based on an assessment of their deliverables, reflection and evidence of quality processes being followed.

  • Community
    Students initiate/add to community projects that aim to benefit others, eg through open source projects, or as specific projects to assist individuals or communities.

Case studies

Genesys (2011–2017)

Genesys was designed as an opportunity for software engineering students to experience a real working environment as part of the academic curriculum.

The Sheffield Startup Summer

In 2018, students at the University of Sheffield (UoS) were already been engaging in several innovation focused extra curricular activities

Why should you get involved?

Benefits for educators

Student enterprises boost essential skills that employers say they need graduates to have and can be a vehicle for knowledge exchange.

Benefits for students

Student enterprises help you improve your employability and engage with industry during your degree, giving you a head-start when you graduate.

Benefits for employers

Student enterprises provide an opportunity for employers to work with students and easily identify great talent before they complete their degrees.