Bank chief praises role of universities in creating new generation of entrepreneurs

Apr 16, 2014

Santander UK chief executive Ana Botin was speaking at Cranfield University on a visit to mark the sixth anniversary of the agreement signed by the two bodies through the Santander Universities Global Division.

In a speech to around 100 students, she stressed the importance of entrepreneurs in ensuring a sustainable economic recovery.

Small and medium-sized businesses in particular are playing a key role and the event also heard from an alumnus entrepreneur now growing his mobile apps solutions business.

Ms Botin (pictured) said: “Cranfield has always been a reference in technology and business education and after visiting the university today I have no doubt that this new generation of students will continue with this tradition.”

Since the Santander-Cranfield partnership began in 2008, over £700,000 of philanthropic funding has been drawn down to support a wide range of activities and initiatives for students and staff, including scholarships, research and enterprise awards, internships and internationalisation projects.

To date, 81 scholarships and mobility awards have been funded for students and staff.

Jessica Harris a student completing her MSc in Advanced Motorsport at Cranfield, said: “My funding support from Santander began with my undergraduate degree. The Santander scholarship to Cranfield has allowed me to pursue my dream and enabled me to attend the best university in the world for motorsport.”

She has secured a job in research and development at the Mercedes AMG PETRONAS F1 team’s headquarters at Brackley.

Entrepreneur Leke Babalola, Cranfield alumnus and now chief executive of bespoke mobile apps developer E-beeze also spoke about his experience as an entrepreneur.

Ms Botin said: “I am certain that these budding business men and women will be a great asset to the UK economy with their new ideas, drive and enthusiasm.”

Cranfield University chief executive and vice-chancellor Professor Sir Peter Gregson said: “It is in Cranfield’s DNA to support innovation and entrepreneurship. We pride ourselves on the innovative ways in which we provide students with the tools to turn their business concepts into reality.

“Today these entrepreneurs have shared their enthusiasm which will enable their new businesses thrive in the future.

“We have seen some of those that have benefited directly from the support of Santander Universities funding which provides the opportunity to change lives around the world.”

Ms Botin also met with regional businessmen to discuss funding opportunities for SMEs. Santander UK is currently engaged in a nationwide programme to boost lending to small and medium enterprises to speed up the recovery of the UK economy. 

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