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The spirit of enterprise

Entrepreneurship takes centre stage at CfEL 10th anniversary

CfEL 10th anniversary

CfEL 10th anniversary party. Photo credit: David Amann.

More than 200 people celebrated the 10th anniversary of the School’s Centre for Entrepreneurial Learning (CfEL), at an event that featured a light show, alumni success stories, a video showcasing CfEL’s achievements, “elevator pitches” of new ventures and speeches about how entrepreneurship has quickly evolved.

“You have managed to create something special – the truth gets told,” said Professor Andy Hopper, head of the Computer Laboratory at Cambridge University, who was one of the speakers at the 1 December event. Through authentic exposure to the often-challenging realities of entrepreneurship, CfEL participants hear “not some phoney story, but how it really happened.”

Lord Karan Bilimoria, CfEL visiting entrepreneur and the founder and chairman of Cobra Beer, said that when he studied in Cambridge in the 1980s entrepreneurship was looked down upon, but that now the Enterprise Tuesday talks organised by CfEL typically draw 300 people per session. “Today, the biggest student society is the Cambridge University Entrepreneurs,” he said.

Lord Bilimoria told the 10th anniversary event that he planned the next day in the House of Lords to talk about CfEL, which he did.

In the past decade, CfEL has provided more than 200 programmes, events and workshops, and more than 18,000 people from 28 countries have participated in those programmes. Over 250 new business ventures have been created by CfEL alumni, while more than 600 videos, video clips and podcasts of lectures and interviews with entrepreneurs have been published and made freely available.

Christoph Loch, director of Cambridge Judge, told the 10th anniversary party that the School is now enhancing its work in entrepreneurship.

“We now support start-ups to where they become commercially successful,” he said. “We’re also helping SMEs (small and medium sized enterprises) which realise they need processes, and we’re also working with social ventures where commercial returns aren’t so great.”

The 10th anniversary event heard 30-second elevator pitches from 10 startup ventures – ranging from an advent calendar that offers 25 apps rather than 25 pieces of chocolate before Christmas, to a company that helps elderly people easily make Skype calls, to a platform to reposition readily available drugs in order to deal with rare diseases affecting young children.

“The ingenuity and passion in the ventures that pitched really personify the entrepreneurial spirit that CfEL represents,” said CFEL director Dr Shai Vyakarnam, who hosted the event.

I really want to thank the business community and alumni for their contributions over the past decade to help change the entrepreneurship landscape at Cambridge.