Entrepreneurial Interns Scheme
- University of Southampton
- South East
- Date first submitted:
- 28 Oct 2009
- Date last modified:
- 15 Oct 2010
- Relationship to RDF:
- Domain A: Knowledge and intellectual abilities
- Knowledge base
- Domain B: Personal effectiveness
- Professional and career development
- Domain C: Research governance and organisation
- Domain D: Engagement, influence and impact
- Working with others
- Engagement and impact
- Personal effectiveness
- Knowledge exchange
- Enterprise-related activities
- Career development
- Postgraduate researchers
- Doctoral researchers
Impact Level 2: Learning
Interns have demonstrated improved knowledge and attitudes to a business working environment, and research in the context of this.
Impact Level 4: Outcomes
Interns have achieved improved employability through their placements, demonstrated by some going on to employment with their host company. Companies have cited a real impact on their businesses through hosting the intern, in terms of being able to run a project that might not otherwise have been undertaken.
Rationale, aims and outcomes
What is the rationale for doing this?
How does it fit with institutional strategy?
What are the main features of the provision?
What are the aims and expected outcomes?
The scheme has been developed using EPSRC enterprise/entrepreneurship Roberts funds and matched funding to support the interns. The scheme enables research students and postdoctoral staff to spend ~six months working on a specific project within a company, gaining valuable work experience, using their own subject area- and research-expertise, but also developing new skills around commercial awareness, business and leadership. The businesses involved range from spin-outs to large companies, and mentoring is provided from within the partner company, by the academic supervisor, and with support from the University's Research & Innovation Services.
The internship projects have been designed to give the interns a real understanding of how new ideas are turned into commercial products and services - which will be invaluable whether they remain in academic research or move into the business world.
Each intern has completed a business skills evaluation form at the outset, as a base-line measure, which is revisited at review-points during and at the end of the internship. At the end of the process, each intern writes a reflective report, and the partner-company is also asked to contribute to the report and to help evaluate the success of the scheme.
Evaluation of the first round of internships in 2010 has shown impact in relation to the interns and their development, and to the company hosts, as well as for the University itself - ie benefits to all stakeholders. All interns perceived significant improvement in their business awareness and commercial skills through the internship experience, with employment resulting for some; companies benefited from the high calibre expertise of the interns. At the same time the scheme realises the University's mission for knowledge transfer.
A series of case studies are available on our website, for further information.
Are there any pre-requisites for engagement, e.g. levels of skill, years of experience, essential pre-activities?
How many participate in each 'activity'?
To be eligible for participation, research students must have completed a successful upgrade to PhD, and must have enrolled student status. Postdoctoral staff must be employed on a current contract. Participants must normally have EPSRC research funding. Experience with the first round of internships has shown that the scheme is most useful/popular with research students who are approaching the end of their research project, perhaps in the writing up stage, and that it can be a useful bridging opportunity for them.
We supported five internships in 2009/10, and will offering a similar number in 2010/11.
Evaluation: benefits, challenges and next steps
How do you monitor effectiveness?
Who do you seek feedback from?
Do you have benchmarks?
Please see comments under rationale, aims and objectives. The first internships were regarded as very succesful, by interns and their host companies.
An initial version of the scheme suffered some difficulties around matching interested students with suitable companies/opportunities. We reviewed the scheme and relaunched it during the following year, bringing in an industrial-liaison colleague to build links with companies and work on developing the specific placements. This assistance was invaluable.
There have also been difficulties around students/postdocs being available at the right time to take up an opportunity - these constraints do not always sit well with the funding-window (for the matched funds). We have had to be as flexible as possible, and have been fortunate to find companies who are also willing to be flexible to get the right intern.
There are certainly sufficient Roberts funds to continue the administration and management of the scheme, but we need to secure additional matched funding to support the interns themselves, and it is not clear that we will get this. The interest from companies has been very strong, and we had far more placements offered than we could recruit to in the first round. Finding available and suitable interns is more challenging, but good candidates have come forward. We are pleased to be working with some of the same companies in a new round of internships for 2010/11.
The University's Careers Service has commenced a project to develop work placements for research students, so there may be scope for collaboration.