Entrepreneurial University of the Year: Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland: Spinouts, Hospitality and Entrepreneurship

“An entrepreneurial spirit permeates our activity and our distinctiveness as an entrepreneurial university is rooted in our vision and strategy. By cultivating this spirit in our students, we are laying the foundations for future prosperity and nurturing future generations of leaders and successful businessmen and women. Entrepreneurship is one of the key parts of our mission as a leading international technological institution.”

-Professor Sir Jim McDonald, Principal of the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, Scotland, United Kingdon

The University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland has a proud history of entrepreneurship and innovation. The University was named the “Entrepreneurial University of the Year 2013” by Times Higher.  It was founded in 1796 as an Andersonian Institute, and migrated to university status in 1964. It has approximately 14,000 undergraduate and 6,000 graduate students enrolled currently. Its campus is urban, located in heart of Glasgow just a short walk away from the train stations. 


University of Strathclyde. Glasgow, Scotland  courtesy of the University of Strathclyde

University of Strathclyde. Glasgow, Scotland
courtesy of the University of Strathclyde

The Academic Entrepreneur has long been impressed and charmed by the University, its staff and its students.  Thus an overview of its spinout activity, hospitality history, and entrepreneurship component is in order. This is not a comprehensive overview of Strathclyde, which the Academic Entrepreneur could write a very long paper on if so commissioned. Rather, this is meant as a snapshot of a few areas in which he has familiarity and a history of engagement with at this impressive entrepreneurial university


Currently the University of Strathclyde is ranked 2nd in Scotland for spinout activity, behind the University of Edinburgh. According to the university’s website, it has spunout  over 50 companies between 2003 and 2012, with 40 of these still actively trading.

For a list of these firms, please find a list here:   List of University of Strathclyde Spinout Companies.  The Stathclyde University Incubator serves its startps through accommodation and services. According to its website, it was Scotland’s first business incubator, formed in 1990.  Gabriel Investments Ltd. is a new Scottish angel syndicate affiliated with the incubator.


The University of Strathclyde used to have a Hotel School as well that was unfortunately folded into its Business School. It was called the Scottish Hotel School and was quite well-known and respected the world over. The School was founded in 1944, and operated as the Scottish Hotel School as an independent unit. In the summer of 2006 it was merged into the business school and became the Department of of Hospitality and Tourism Management.  The Academic Entrepreneur believes that the “Scottish Hotel School” is a latent brand opportunity, and might therefore someday be revived in a new form at some point in the future by enterprising academic entrepreneurs.  Over the course of its 60+ years of existence, it graduated over 6000 students from over 60 countries around the world. The School took a leadership role in tourism and Scotland. It also had researchers focused on hospitality entrepreneurship, the only hotel school to have such dedication to what was a narrow topic at the time, even just 10 years ago.  Dr. Alison Morrison, now Professor of Hospitality, Tourism and Events at the University of Victoria in Melbourne, headed this effort as the Vice-Dean of Research at Stathclyde at the time. One of her publications is “Entrepreneurship in the Hospitality, Leisure, and Tourism Industries” that she wrote with Michael Rimmington and Clare Williams. You can find it here on google books. 


The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship is Scotland’s best known university entrepreneurship center. It’s a department with in the business school as well and is endowed by Sir Tom Hunter, Scotland’s first “home-grown billionaire”.  The centre undertakes a wide range of activities, from teaching technology entrepreneurship at the undergraduate level to training PhD students in entrepreneurship research. It is currently headed by Professor Eleanor Shaw who is the principal investigator the the centre’s research on entrepreneurial philanthropy. The project contributes to the programme of research being undertaken by the UK-wide Centre for Charitable Giving and Philanthropy



Indeed the centre’s teaching and research activities are of high quality.  Sir Tom Hunter has endowed the Scottish Global Entrepreneurship Monitor, also known as the “Scotland GEM” since its inception in 2000. This research is headed by Professor Jonathan Levie.  He has published such journal articles such as this in Research PolicyFounder’s Capital, External Investment, and the Survival Rate of New High Technology Ventures”.    Expert entrepreneurship policy researcher Professor Sara Carter  has also published numerous works including on this year “The ineffectiveness of entrepreneurship policy : is policy formulation to blame?” in Small Business Economics with Colin Mason. The Hunter Centre is recognized as an influencer of UK entrepreneurship policy. Scotland listens to the Hunter Centre  as well as seen below in Professor Carter’s testimony to the Economy, Energy and Tourism Committee of the Scottish Parliament on the 17th of September, 2013.



The Academic Entrepreneur is curious as to what lies ahead for the UK’s most entrepreneurial university. He’ll do more digging so expect more blog posts to come. You can be sure there are some exiting plans ahead in terms of entrepreneurial activity and influence for the institution, and a few dreams there as well, constrained only by resources. If you’d like to learn more in the meantime, find the university’s five year plan here: University of Strathclyde Strategic Plan for the 2011-2015 period.





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