Business lecturers 'should know business'

A leading academic and entrepreneur has called on business lecturers to know more about commerce.

Dr Tony Trapp, a Newcastle University visiting lecturer, said: "As a broad rule of thumb I believe business lecturers should have experience of actual business."

He was speaking at the Inspiring 21st Century Entrepreneurs event at the university, which brought together an expert panel to address the business leaders of tomorrow.

Dr Trapp, Newcastle University Business School’s David Goldman Visiting Professor of Business Innovation and managing director of IHC Engineering Business – a company he sold recently to Dutch ship builder IHC Merwede for £30m – said: "What is the benefit of a good idea if it never gets to see the light of day and get tested in the real world? Within my business we are always looking to turn engineers into business people. Understanding commerce and how it works, is how you make things happen.

"We have upwards of 70 people between the ages of 22 and 29 at my company; training is therefore a major focus of the business. It was always the students that interested me as a lecturer and they are who I am looking to engage with."

Panellist Professor Max Robinson, founder of several highly successful university spinout companies and an Entrepreneur in Residence at Newcastle University Careers Service, said: "My academic background is physics and electronics but when I first got involved with creating spin out businesses I knew nothing about running a company.

"A friend of mine described me as being in a constant state of unconscious incompetence. But I learned quickly from my mistakes and was fortunate enough to float a business on the stock market which gave me the financial freedom to continue my research."

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