Four students from The University of Nottingham's School of Economics found themselves invited for coffee with Apprentice boss Sir Alan Sugar when they attended a public lecture by the Trade Minister, Lord Mervyn Davies.
At the end of a presentation on the need for innovation and enterprise, the minister asked the student audience how many had ambitions to be entrepreneurs themselves. He then invited four of them to come to London to have coffee with him and the government's enterprise champion, Lord Sugar, at the House of Lords to receive tips on how to succeed.
He also congratulated them on their choice of university. He told them: "You are lucky to be at The University of Nottingham. This is an outstanding academic institution."
Lord Davies was delivering a lecture for the Globalisation and Economic Policy Centre, which is based within the Nottingham School of Economics at The University of Nottingham.
He said Britain had to focus particularly on those industries in which it has competitive advantage, including advanced engineering, low carbon, life sciences, education and digital.
He described Britain as a nation of small medium enterprises (SMEs) — it has 4.8million of them — and said entrepreneurs will play a vital role if the country is to succeed and survive the challenges set by the growth of nations like China and India.
He said: “One of the challenges government has got is to create a generation of young people who aspire to run businesses and who are not afraid of failure. The next 10 years is the era of the entrepreneur. Technology is allowing people to create businesses from home. There is a revolution going on. Sixty per cent of new businesses are started at home. My advice to young people is to have a go, follow your passion and dream.”
Lord Davies also encouraged budding entrepreneurs to spend some time in China and India. He said: “If you don’t have knowledge of these countries you risk being uncompetitive. They are going to have such importance in your lifetime.”
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Notes to editors: The University of Nottingham is ranked in the UK's Top 10 and the World's Top 100 universities by the Shanghai Jiao Tong (SJTU) and Times Higher (THE) World University Rankings.
More than 90 per cent of research at The University of Nottingham is of international quality, according to RAE 2008, with almost 60 per cent of all research defined as ‘world-leading’ or ‘internationally excellent’. Research Fortnight analysis of RAE 2008 ranks the University 7th in the UK by research power. In 27 subject areas, the University features in the UK Top Ten, with 14 of those in the Top Five.
The University provides innovative and top quality teaching, undertakes world-changing research, and attracts talented staff and students from 150 nations. Described by The Times as Britain's “only truly global university”, it has invested continuously in award-winning campuses in the United Kingdom, China and Malaysia. Twice since 2003 its research and teaching academics have won Nobel Prizes. The University has won the Queen's Award for Enterprise in both 2006 (International Trade) and 2007 (Innovation — School of Pharmacy), and was named ‘Entrepreneurial University of the Year’ at the Times Higher Education Awards 2008.
Nottingham was designated as a Science City in 2005 in recognition of its rich scientific heritage, industrial base and role as a leading research centre. Nottingham has since embarked on a wide range of business, property, knowledge transfer and educational initiatives (www.science-city.co.uk) in order to build on its growing reputation as an international centre of scientific excellence. The University of Nottingham is a partner in Nottingham: the Science City.