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In 2000 the Welsh Government (formally known as The National Assembly for Wales), with its economy struggling, affirmed that entrepreneurship was the solution to its problems. The formula was simple: entrepreneurs create businesses which create employment.
The crux of the formula was, and is, the entrepreneur. But at the time Wales was experiencing a 'brain drain' of young, talented and creative graduates who were having to move out of the country to find work. Reversing this trend was key to success, so the Welsh Government engaged with Universities to devise enterprise education policies to entice graduates to stay in Wales and create their own jobs. The result has been a new class of academics called 'prac-ademics'.
Entrepreneur educator Louise Edwards looks back at more than a decade of Welsh entrepreneurship education policy and reflects on the rise of prac-ademics, the implementations of policies, the development of graduate entrepreneurs and the trials and tribulations along the way. And she grapples with the question: "what did we really do these past ten years? Did we create entrepreneurs or simply tick the governmental policies boxes to say we did?"
Louise Edwards has been working within higher education for the past fourteen years and fulfilled a number of roles from managing some of the fifty fastest growing companies in Wales, to managing the Enterprise in Education initiative and in 2004 was appointed as the Welsh Government funded 'University Enterprise Champion'.
Edwards is an active researcher and has published widely in academic journals and text books, many of which are linked to her PhD study on the students' entrepreneurial journey. In her current position as Head of the Enterprise Education Hub, Edwards lectures in the field of entrepreneurship; manages the student enterprise agenda across all campuses and employs Enterprise Officers to manage the enterprise zones known as 'The Ideas Factories'. She has mentored 83 graduate start-up companies, is a fellow of International Enterprise Educators programme and a fellow of Higher Education Academy.