Pictured above: Professor Simon Denny, Associate Dean at The University of Northampton’s Business School
Professor Simon Denny, Associate Dean at The University of Northampton’s Business School, has been awarded a highly prestigious ‘Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion’, for his outstanding and significant role in promoting enterprise skills and attitudes.
Along with other Enterprise winners, he will attend a reception at Buckingham Palace on 12 July to celebrate his achievement. The University of Northampton is the only Higher Education Institution to feature in this year’s list of recipients.
The annual Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion, which was first awarded in 2006, rewards individuals who have played an outstanding and significant role in promoting the growth of business enterprise and entrepreneurial skills and attitudes in others in the UK.
The Award recognises Simon’s work and support to would-be entrepreneurs in Northamptonshire through a range of activities, including the development of the Business Creation Partnership, which influenced the creation of new business start up support in the East Midlands. Simon also led the team that delivered the Business Link Start Up Service in Northampton from 2007-10.
Since 2004 Simon’s enterprise promotion activities have benefitted significant numbers of women, individuals from ethnic minority groups, disabled people, ex-offenders and people in rural communities.
During this time, of the 1,950 new businesses set up in Northamptonshire as a result of Simon and the Northampton Business School’s initiatives, 91% have proved successful for more than 12 months.
Simon explains: “I got started in enterprise promotion in 2004 when I became aware the European Social Fund’s Equal programme was inviting bids to help people from disadvantaged groups start businesses. I applied successfully, and the resulting project was to create a consistent business start-up service throughout Northamptonshire.
“I knew at the time that where you lived in the county dictated the quality and quantity of support you received, with help based on postcode rather than need. This seemed wrong and, knowing The University of Northampton’s strong ‘widening participation’ agenda, I felt there was an opportunity to do something very different.
“Northamptonshire and the East Midlands now have a consistent business start-up support service. We have also established very good relationships with local authorities who see the University as one of the key routes through which they can achieve economic development and social inclusion.
“In terms of helping people – one of the things I’m most proud of is our work with HM Wellingborough Prison. We sign up interested prisoners as students of the University, and then take them through a module from our Foundation Degree in Enterprise called ‘Entrepreneurial Skills Development’.
“The students work hard and pass by constructing plans for their personal development and intended business. Despite all the hurdles we face in working within the prison system – we can’t take any computers or software in, or sometimes the prison will just shut for security reasons – we’ve now had 70 prisoners participate and very few have failed.
“All work is marked independently and results have been comparable with our full time students. We hold graduation ceremonies in the prison and I know the students get something out of this. When we ran our last information day, we had some of the ex-offenders who’d been through the scheme come back to meet and encourage new starters on the course.”
On a more personal level Simon is clearly thrilled at the prospect of receiving the Queen’s Award for Enterprise Promotion. He adds: “I’m genuinely honoured. I remember standing outside Buckingham Palace with my mum and dad when I was eight to wave at the Queen. The thought of going inside is genuinely quite amazing.
“I think this Award is a real benchmark. It means what we’ve been doing has been good enough to reach this level of recognition. We have a three year strategy that will embed us even more closely with local authorities on economic development and social inclusion. We’ve also just set up our own social enterprise – 3E, based in Kettering, Northamptonshire – and we will continue to develop where there is a social need in the county.”
Ian Brooks, Dean of Northampton Business School, adds: “The Northampton Business School has developed an international reputation for the support it gives would-be entrepreneurs and their fledgling businesses. The remarkable outcomes from a wide range of purposeful and well-considered interventions are credited to Professor Denny and his team, whose tireless devotion to enterprise development has been rightly recognised by this highly prestigious Award.
“As a University business school we have developed unique capabilities in managing large scale complex enterprise projects, alongside degree level enterprise skills development. This is in very large measure due to Simon’s highly skilled leadership”.