ONE of the original line-up of Dragons’ Den will lead a drive to ignite an entrepreneurial spirit at the University of Essex.

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Doug Richard, who appeared in the first two series of the BBC show, is fronting a Government-backed scheme to promote enterprise in higher education.

Essex is one of the first universities in the UK to host the ‘Challenge Workshops’, which will look at how to engage staff and students with entrepreneurship.

Mr Richard, who received an honorary degree from the University of Essex in 2009, will visit its Colchester campus on Wednesday, November 28.

Mr Richard said: “The UK needs entrepreneurs now more than ever, and we have to start tapping into the abundance of innovative talent that British universities and colleges have, and help them to unleash their entrepreneurial potential.

“There are so many brilliant people out there who can be part of Britain’s entrepreneurial future, and I can’t wait to meet them and get down to business.”

Dr Janice Pittis, the university’s research and enterprise office director, said: “We are delighted to be hosting the Challenge Workshops which are designed to offer intensive teaching, training and support to staff and students.

“They have the potential to galvanise real change within institutions across the UK by embedding entrepreneurial values and skills within their work.

“Entrepreneurship is already nurtured at Essex. We aim to empower our students to succeed in whatever professional path they choose and support them by nurturing ambition and independence of thought to help them achieve their aspirations and gain the entrepreneurial skills and attitude that will give them the competitive edge.”

The workshops are part of a national programme of events being led by the Entrepreneurial Institution. The programme aims to stimulate a more entrepreneurial approach within universities, create and develop more entrepreneurial opportunities, and encourage research activity to have a greater economic impact.

They will also help identify when research has the potential to be a profitable business opportunity.

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