An MBA in London Opens Entrepreneurial Doors

MBA in London entrepreneurship

If you’re looking to study in a globally significant city, you can’t really do much better than to opt for an MBA in London it seems. Though it can no longer claim, as it once could, to be the capital of an empire on which, famously, the sun never set, London is still a city which looms large in the international business landscape. Indeed, a ranking released by Forbes in August has labeled London the world’s most influential city, edging out the likes of New York, Paris and Tokyo.

So, what has the UK’s capital got over its illustrious rivals? According to Joel Kotkin, one of the compilers of the ranking, the financial might of the City, a relative freedom from regulators afforded by being outside both the Eurozone and the US, its favorable location in terms of time zones and travel, the huge number of global companies headquartered and stationed there, and its long-established prominence in not just business, but also media and advertising make London what it is.

Silicon Roundabout at the heart of London’s power

Another newly established reason for London’s success in this ranking – in no small way a consequence of the former reasons – is its status as a technology hub, with over 3,000 startups in the sector. This has led the area around the Old Street gyratory to be labeled the ‘Silicon Roundabout’.

The first wave of companies to settle in the area, towards the end of the last decade included Last.fm, Songkick and Tweetdeck. With the area already associated with youthful cool, and London’s status as a business hub, the seeds were sown, and the number of startups in the area has skyrocketed. The younger, edgier crowd putting their entrepreneurial skills to the test has since been joined by the giants of the global tech scene, with juggernauts like Intel, Google and Facebook moving in or planning to move into the area around the Silicon Roundabout – labeled East London Tech City.

Of course, with these names moving in, smaller startups are being priced out of the area, but London – as you may know – is a big city, and there is no shortage of entrepreneurial activity beyond the Silicon Roundabout, towards the cheaper areas in the south and east of the city. And of course, the businesses are not solely in the technology space. The entrepreneurial skills of London’s startup community has seen the creation of everything from companies who will deliver beer to your office on a Friday afternoon, to short-term accommodation services based around alumni networks, to subscription flower delivery services.

An MBA in London can open doors

Studying an MBA in London can be a great way to become part of this vibrant startup community. As well as simple proximity to the scene, the city’s business schools are actively involved in its entrepreneurial activities. London Business School, for instance, is the home of the Deloitte Institute of Innovation and Entrepreneurship, which has five resident faculty members and aims to “equip current and future leaders with the tools and insights to encourage and channel entrepreneurial initiative, and thus to innovate and prosper” as well as helping businesses themselves develop.

There is a general focus on creating an ‘ecosystem’ at the school, according to David Morris, head of corporate sectors at London Business School. “We try to encourage off-campus activity. We do a lot of work in the hubs around London, such as Level 39, Google Campus, and General Assembly and try to encourage students to go to events and network. A lot of companies don’t have a dedicated MBA recruitment model, so a lot of contact is the consequence of individual vacancies and candidate job search.”

Cass Business School can lay claim to an entrepreneurship fund of no less than £10 million (US$16 million) and Imperial College Business School offers unique access to some of the world’s most exciting developments in science and technology. Hult International Business School has a presence in London and is associated with social entrepreneurship through the Hult Prize (learn more about this year’s winner), and as a young school, can be considered to be rather entrepreneurial in itself.

Entrepreneurial skills outside of London

But you don’t even need to study your MBA in London to make the most of the city’s entrepreneurial climate. Choose to hone your entrepreneurial skills elsewhere and you will generally find that you’re a stone’s throw away. Oxford Saïd, Cambridge Judge, and Henley are all within an hour’s train ride of London, and Cranfield, Ashridge, and Warwick Business School (which also has a campus in London’s tallest building, the Shard) are within two hours. High-speed trains mean one can even get from Manchester Business School, half a country away, in a little over two hours.

But to imply that London and its Silicon Roundabout are the only hubs of UK entrepreneurship would be disingenuous. Oxford and Cambridge are home to some rather well-known universities, which always helps when it comes to finding new ideas around which to base a business. The latter boasts an exciting tech startup scene of its own, which gave rise to startups such as ARM Holdings and Autonomy, which lost its autonomy when bought by Hewlett-Packard in 2012. The ‘Northern corridor’, of which Manchester is a part, has also been labeled an entrepreneurial powerhouse by Barclays and the Economist Intelligence Unit.

The UK, it seems, is fertile ground for startups, particularly in the technology sector (read more on the growth in the technology sector). Choosing to study an MBA in London or further afield will certainly afford you plenty of opportunities to put those entrepreneurial skills to the test.

Written by Mansoor Iqbal

Mansoor is a contributor to and former editor of TopMBA.com. He is a higher and business education specialist, who has been published in media outlets around the world. He studied English literature at BA and MA level and has a background in consumer journalism.

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