What is SurreyIDEA and what is its mission?
SurreyIDEA is the Surrey Innovation and Digital Enterprise Academy and our mission is to transform the way universities deliver enterprise and entrepreneurship education. Entrepreneurship programmes often end up in limbo, trying to combine traditional academic and theoretical approaches with a more practical education experience - and end up doing neither all that well. We want to really focus on the practical side, creating enterprises is core to our mission, so that SurreyIDEA becomes the natural home for people of any age who have an idea and want to build it into a sustainable business.

How did the SurreyIDEA concept come about?
The thinking behind SurreyIDEA has been bouncing around a group of like-minded individuals inside and outside the business school for a long time. Universities need to become better engaged with the world outside academia to solve some big problems like where the next generation of wealth creators will come from, how young people from hard to reach backgrounds can fulfil their potential, and how digital technology and connectedness will change the world. In a small way at first but in a big way later on, we want to start to tackle these, and other, problems.

Who is the programme aimed at?
We want to go beyond recruiting students in the traditional way where previous academic achievements and qualifications are the only thing that counts. We want to recruit students with the potential to be entrepreneurs or to be “disrupters” – people who go into established organisations and businesses and think differently, offer radical and new insights and change well established practices. This means we’re looking for a special kind of student – problem solvers, risk takers, people who get stuff done - and therefore students may not always come with traditional academic credentials. Our selection of students is going to be based on two questions: Do you have an idea? Do you have the personal qualities of a hard work ethic and resilience to put that idea into action?

What makes SurreyIDEA unique and different to other programmes?
This is a two year accelerated programme in Enterprise Creation aimed at the kind of student I mentioned where the outcome is a pipeline of successful and sustainable businesses. We have a dedicated ‘IDEA Space’ where our students will work for two years solving problems, collaborating, immersing themselves into business using a learning-by-doing approach, as that’s what really works. We’ll also fund it differently – rather than have students pay for their education and end up in debt, we want to invest in them and their ideas – our idea is that students should be able to do our programme for free and we’ll share in whatever it is they create. It’s enterprise education delivered in an entrepreneurial way from start to finish.

Who are the people behind SurreyIDEA?
The Director of SurreyIDEA is myself, Andy Adcroft, I’m Deputy Dean of the Business School at the University of Surrey. We’ll have an Advisory Board that brings a wealth of entrepreneurial and business experience which will be chaired by one of the University’s most successful entrepreneurial alumni and visiting professor, Gavin Whichello, and we’ll also be bringing in a wide range of academics and practitioners. Our team is made up of people who are activists and like getting stuff done.

Why should potential students apply?
This is an exciting roller coaster of a two year programme where students will not only develop their own ideas but will work with a range of companies from pre-revenue start-ups to FTSE100s. This is a programme for students who want to participate and want to have an impact, a programme that will be delivered in a very different way. There are no other programmes like this - two years where students live, breathe and study entrepreneurship and enterprise.

How long is the programme?
The degree programme will be two years but we’ll also have programmes that run for different periods. We’ll have a 6 month post-graduate certificate called ‘Into Enterprise’ for tech and science students who need a business grounding and a one year masters degree in the commercialisation of intellectual property. Into this mix we have an ‘IDEA in a Day’ programme which is engaging hundreds of young people right now, and seasonal schools where participants spend one or two weeks working with businesses to solve real problems. 

What are the programmes values?
Acceleration. Intensity. Learning-by-doing. Immersion. Collaboration. Creativity. We’re not only teaching entrepreneurship but we’re embedding entrepreneurship in everything we do inside and outside the classroom – from funding to recruitment, to curriculum to delivery and outputs - everything is about creating new businesses by putting ideas into action.

How many students will you have on the programme?
We will to start with an initial cohort of around 25 students and then grow from there. We’re building some great links, nationally and internationally, with schools, colleges, community organisations and businesses to identify and nurture the brightest young people we can find. The first cohort will start in the summer of 2020.

How can businesses and prospective students find out more?
We’ll be hosting a SurreyIDEA ‘Business Launch’ here in the ‘IDEA Space’ in Spring 2020. 


Any business interested in attending to find out more should contact Adrian Shanks ( Prospective students can register their interest by e-mailing: 

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