David Bozward is Senior Lecturer in Entrepreneurship at the University of Worcester’s Business School, which is an IOEE Centre of Excellence. We shone the spotlight on him this month to find out about his own entrepreneurial past and the work his pioneering department is doing in the field of enterprise education.
In 1995 David Bozward (then aged 29) achieved his PhD, a study into 3G mobile phones, before working for the Japanese Company OKI in Singapore, and in Norway as a self-employed consultant to Telenor. After a few years doing this David set up a number of successful enterprises of his own in the games industry, cutting his teeth as an entrepreneur. It was this experience that led to a significant opportunity working for the government, as he recalls:
“In 2009 I was offered a job with the National Council of Graduate Entrepreneurship in Birmingham. That put me in a position where I was working with virtually every university in England, supporting them on their student entrepreneurship programmes.”
At that time the National Council of Graduate Entrepreneurship had a complex remit. As well as working with senior university staff to help them develop entrepreneurial universities, it supported other educators to embed entrepreneurship into the curriculum. David’s specific task was to work with students themselves. He says:
“I was the director of Flying Start, a National Council of Graduate Entrepreneurship initiative that helped students to start their own businesses, running programmes and workshops at different universities.”
Having fulfilled this role alongside work as a consultant for the National Association of Colleges and University Entrepreneurs, two years ago David secured his current position as Senior Lecturer at the University of Worcester’s Business School to which he brings a rich and diverse set of skills and experience. David teaches entrepreneurship within the Business School, specifically on the Business Management degree as well as on the Entrepreneurship degree, of which he is also course leader. Additionally, students from across the university can choose elective entrepreneurship modules to complement their non-business related learning programmes. David says:
“We work with students from every discipline – sports and arts students in particular. Everyone is welcome to come and have a go.”
David is also Strategic Lead for Entrepreneurship within the Business School, facilitating events like summer boot camps for students who want to start businesses, as well as overseeing the university’s start-up incubator.
Speaking about the students who enrol on the Business School’s Entrepreneurship degree, David explains that there’s a variety of starting points from one individual to the next, but that the programme is designed to accommodate all of their needs:
“We have students arrive who already have a business started up and running. We also have those who come with a business idea they want to follow. Then we have students who know they want to start a business but they’re not sure what they want to do. When that’s the case we begin an ideation process – getting them to generate thinking around what running a business might meant to them.”
The Entrepreneurship degree also stands out because learners come from a multitude of different backgrounds and span numerous ages. This has influenced the way the programme has been developed by David and his colleagues:
“It’s not like a not like a normal degree where you just assume everyone is 18 years old and train them all in the same way. This is very much about individual learners, which is why we keep the group quite small. With just 15-20 students we can dedicate a lot of time to helping each person move forward with their enterprise and their learning.”
Aside from running the dedicated BA in Entrepreneurship, the Business School also attracts students from other parts of the university keen to develop their enterprising skills and add a commercial edge to the subjects they’ve chosen. David says:
“Worcester has a lot of sports students and arts students, so we get those coming to us, as well as a few psychology and education learners. Sports students tend towards sports coaching services or wellbeing-focussed businesses and we have a lot of art students interested in the making, buying and selling of jewellery online or off.”
For David, formalising entrepreneurship into academic learning gives those with the spark of an idea or the dream of entrepreneurship a fighting chance at success. By preparing students for the demands of running an enterprise before they set out alone or in tandem with their journey, it’s possible to dramatically improve the chances of a thriving business being born. He says:
“A hundred years ago we never had formal driving lessons or tests. People could still drive – they’d get in the car, crash as few times but eventually figure it out. Of course, with driving lessons they hopefully make fewer mistakes and learn to be better drivers more quickly. Teaching entrepreneurship is about giving students the processes and methodology, the knowledge and the skills to mitigate risks and recognise opportunities.