Returning to work from holiday is often a chore however, on this occasion my spirits were lifted as soon as I entered the atrium at Queen Margaret University.

I was initially struck by the strong images of fresh faced students and graduates which were presented as part of a striking exhibition focusing on entrepreneurship. I was immediately drawn in by the diverse range of stories which highlighted many of our students’ entrepreneurial journeys. Having spent several minutes digesting their successes, I felt inspired and uplifted, and ready to engage once again in my day to day work with the Communications team.

I felt an overwhelming sense of pride that so many of our students and graduates, from all manner of different academic specialisms, are having the confidence to break-away from the traditional graduate career path to shape their own destinies.

QMU’s ‘Inspiring Entrepreneurs’ exhibition celebrates the pivotal role entrepreneurship plays in enhancing the student experience, as well as demonstrating great examples of the way in which the University’s research impacts on everyday lives. Not only does the exhibition share many fascinating stories about current students and graduates, it also showcases the success of our spin-out speech and language company,‘ Fitvoice, and the work of academic champions whose role is to embed entrepreneurship across the University curriculum.

Over the last few years, QMU has made great inroads in developing the entrepreneurial mentality across the university. Indeed, we were the first university in Scotland to host a Business Gateway office on campus. The partnership with East Lothian Council’s Business Gateway team is pivotal to the success of QMU’s entrepreneurial strategy, and supports both business development within local community, as well as new students and graduates who are interested in exploring business ideas.

The diversity of entrepreneurs highlighted within our exhibition makes one acutely aware of the changing student mindset and the range of opportunities now available to all graduates. When I first started working for QMU 17 years ago, only a handful of business students would have considered setting up their own companies. Gone are the days of relying on graduate training schemes - students are now far braver and more adventurous in their outlook, and are better equipped to carve out a new style of career. It is now common practice for our film students to team up with classmates in order to establish video production companies well before they reach their graduation. Our Business Innovation Zone has a healthy mix of theatre companies and creative businesses. However, we also activity support entrepreneurship across the areas of healthcare, business, social and service innovation.

We need to continue building on the excellent work that has been achieved by presenting students with outstanding opportunities to learn from established entrepreneurs, connecting them with successful alumni and providing the necessary support and resources to turn their ideas into reality.

QMU aims to be a university of ideas and influence. Both academic and support staff are key to inspiring more of our students to develop an entrepreneurial mindset, helping them to overcome the confidence gap that stops many from taking the leap. Only that way will we truly play our part in making Scotland a world leading, entrepreneurial and enterprising nation.

Lynne Russell is Communications Manager for Queen Margaret University, Edinburgh.

QMU’s Inspiring Entrepreneurs exhibition runs until 21st July 2017.

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