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2 December, 2014 - 12:47 By News Desk

Judge Business School takes tech tyros in hand

Judge Business School Director Christoph Loch

Cambridge University’s Judge Business School is broadening its sphere of influence to effectively ride shotgun over young spin-outs and help steer more of them through hostile territory.

Director Christoph Loch outlined the more holistic role for Judge at the 10th anniversary celebrations for the School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL).

Professor Loch outlined plans for Judge’s entrepreneurship offering to have a bigger impact on not only the university but also the Cambridge technology cluster and wider society. 

It would now “accompany and support” fledgling organisations as they took their enterprises through commercial investment and to the marketplace, work with SMEs that are already established to help them develop further – and also work with social ventures.

The Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning was launched on September 1, 2003 with a mission to "spread the spirit of enterprise" to both the University of Cambridge community and to wider national and international audiences through the creation and delivery of a range of educational activities that inspire and build skills in the practise of Entrepreneurship.

Would-be entrepreneurs should be encouraged to be realistic about their expecations and make sure they have a life outside work, the guests at a celebratory event were told.

CfEL director Shai Vyakarnam, thanked those who had given their time pro bono over the past decade  to support the centre and help make Cambridge pre-eminent in entrepreneurship. During the centre’s 10 years, 250 new businesses have been set up employing 2,500 people – and in the last two years alumni have raised £120 million in funding, Dr Vyakarnam said.

Professor Andy Hopper, head of the university’s celebrated Computer Laboratory, said CfEL had made a “super contribution to the university and more importantly to society and wealth creation. We’re all proud of you,” he said. 

One of its great strengths was the way it helped would-be entrepreneurs retain a sense of reality, such as through its “very special”, Enterprise Tuesday networking sessions and lectures that brought together a whole variety of people. 

“The truth gets told, not phoney stories,” he says. This was something that would continue with plans to develop an Entrepreneurs’ Charter, which was an opportunity to present a “framework for realistic expectation”, giving proper advice on what to do and what to avoid. 

Goodwill within the university was also key to future success. “A university relies on goodwill and you prejudice goodwill at your peril,” he said. It was something that they were very good at in Silicon Valley – “but we have some way to go,” he added.

Sir Paul Judge, the key benefactor of the Judge Business School, also believed a reality check was good for entrepreneurs and cautioned that there was more to life than career alone.  

He said life he was about balancing five balls – work, family, friends, health and spirit. While work was a rubber ball that would bounce back if you dropped it, the others were made of glass and could be damaged or shattered if dropped. “Go for balance and have the courage of your convictions to be yourself,” he said.

He likened entrepreneurship to a rocket launch. “Some blow up at launch, some part way and some reach the stratosphere,” he said. “When everything is going well, though, something has been overlooked.”

Students weren’t quite so keen on entrepreneurship when Lord Karan Bilimoria, visiting entrepreneur and founder and chairman of Cobra Beer Enterprise, was a student at Cambridge in the 1980s, he told guests. 

At that time they were looked down on as being like “a Del Boy or second hand car salesman.” Now Cambridge University Entrepreneurs was the biggest society in the university.  Enterprise Tuesdays had become so popular that there was no longer a room to fit them at Judge Business School with the 350 attendees now being housed at the Engineering department. 

He told the audience he would be speaking about the centre and its anniversary in addressing the SME Bill at the House of Lords today (December 2) and the autumn statement debate on Thursday (December4). 

“I will speak about the centre and the wonderful work it has done. It’s a shining example of where entrepreneurship can get us. I’m proud to have been involved from day one,” he said. Lord Bilimoria will also be a guest speaker talking about ‘Building a Brand Against all Odds’ at an Enterprise Tuesday event on February 3, 2015.

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