Bioscience students unlock their enterprising potential with SIE

Bioscience students unlock their enterprising potential with SIE

The Scottish Institute for Enterprise (SIE) in partnership with the School of Medical Sciences and the University’s Careers Service has just completed a series of on-campus workshops for 370 students studying the first year course, The Cell.

The sessions were delivered within the framework of the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes and designed to give students the chance to experience and reflect upon some of these attributes in practice.

The workshop was based around the ‘SIE Ideas Lab’, which involves students being set a real life challenge rooted in a real social and community problem. In this case, the challenge was the problem presented to society by the growing number of dementia sufferers looking to play a more active part in everyday life. Using some of the key processes of design thinking, the students were asked to identify the true extent of the problems faced by sufferers and to put themselves in their shoes and the shoes of their carers. Working in teams, they had to come up with a solution to one of the problems they identified within this scenario and work to develop their idea into a possible pitch.

The lab finished with a period of reflection, getting the students to think about how they had approached the problem and how they had communicated and worked within their teams. The Careers Service wrapped up the labs by giving the students guidance on where to go to complement and reinforce what they took from the session regarding their own attributes, how to build on these and what type of activities could help them do this throughout their degree.

Dr Joy Perkins, Educational & Employability Development Adviser at the Careers Service said: “The initiative has clearly raised the profile and importance of enterprise skills with a large number of first year students. Through delivering these sessions SIE has supported our students to develop a range of enterprising behaviours such as skills analysis, self-reflection and personal development that graduate employers and recruiters look for.”

SIE also used its Ideas Labs to illustrate what is meant by innovation to build students’ self-efficacy in their ability to innovate. So it was really encouraging to see a number of students approach SIE’s Regional Business Advisor, Dawn Shand, at the end of the labs wanting to discuss their own ideas for a new product or venture.

Ann Davidson, SIE Enterprise Programme Director, said:  “It was fantastic event with inspiring ideas generated in relation to the challenges set within all the labs and it was impressive to see so much potential within the first year student cohort.”

Speaking on behalf of the Bioscience Course Co-ordinators, Dr John Barrow commented: “Dr Allison Carrington and I were delighted to run this informative and worthwhile session from the Scottish Institute for Enterprise.  During the sessions there was a real buzz in the air and it was great to see the students being so engaged in something that really is a little different from the normal lab session they are used to.  These sessions really highlight and exemplify the Aberdeen Graduate Attributes and how key skills, such as critical thinking and team work are crucial no matter which discipline you are studying.”

SIE also delivered a lab to final year biology students with the emphasis more on encouraging the students to look for innovation opportunities within their degree.

SIE is funded by the Scottish Funding Council and works with staff and students in Scotland to help them discover their entrepreneurial talent and start up their own ventures. Academic staff interested in finding out more about SIE, and the support available to deliver enterprise and entrepreneurship sessions within the curriculum are encouraged to email: