Entrance to the new Vinson Building

Buckingham launches new centre for economics and entrepreneurship

28 November 2018

Right Hon Frank Field MP and Lord Vinson opening the Vinson BuildingThe University of Buckingham has unveiled its new £8 million Vinson Building which will house the Vinson Centre for Economics and Entrepreneurship, the first of its kind in the UK.

The opening ceremony was led by the Lord Vinson and the Independent MP Rt Hon Frank Field, who is one of the country’s leading advocates of entrepreneurialism.

Promoting enterprise and entrepreneurship

The new building will be home to Buckingham’s broad-based Economics course which uniquely offers allied subjects including history, politics and philosophy as part of the programme. Business students including those on the Business Enterprise course (BBE) which is the first in the world in which students “pitch” for up to £5,000 to set up their own companies as part of their degree, will also use the centre. Students will be able to develop their businesses in the new Enterprise Hub where they can meet entrepreneurs and business people.

The Vinson Building contains a library, bookshop, state-of-the-art coffee bar and study spaces. It now houses the University’s new largest lecture theatre, and will host conferences and community events. It provides the campus with a clear focal point for the first time.

Generous donations

The Vinson Building and its work is possible thanks to a generous donation from entrepreneur Lord Vinson. Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (BTVLEP) granted £3m to enable the completion of the building. Susanne Klatten, a German alumni of the University and BMW heir, also donated generously to the project. She supported the development of the Buckingham Enterprise and Innovation Unit (BEIU) within the Centre.

A new link with the IEA

The centre also cements links between the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA) and the University of Buckingham. The IEA will use the building for conducting research, in addition to its London offices.

Lord Vinson’s association with the University came about as a result of his links with the IEA. He was Chairman of Trustees for some years, and now life Vice President of the IEA. The University of Buckingham has strong links with the IEA. Arthur Seldon, father of current Vice Chancellor Sir Anthony Seldon, was a joint founder of the IEA, and instrumental in the creation of the University.

Nurturing entrepreneurialism

The Rt Hon Frank Field said: “We fail as a country to cherish those with the gift of entrepreneurialism. And we all too often fail as a country – lamentably – to act on the outcome of those entrepreneurial skills. The product of that is too often left to other countries to harvest.

“With the opening of the Vinson Building, I hope history will judge that a decisive strike back is being made to our so harmful anti-entrepreneurial culture. In Birkenhead, when great ships are launched the cry goes up to bless all those who sail in the said vessel. Likewise, may the same blessing apply to all those who study within the walls of the Vinson Building. May they acquire and nurture the gift of entrepreneurialism and act as wisely with the wealth they have created as has the benefactor of this great building.”

Laying foundations of prosperity

Lord Vinson added: “Overwhelmingly the facts pointed to Buckingham as the place to choose if you want to advance entrepreneurialism – manifested, not least, by being the first university to offer two-year courses and its uniquely sound thinking on liberal economics. Both Buckingham and I have been closely associated with the IEA, and I and my Trustees wanted to cement the relationship. As an entrepreneur I have been exceptionally fortunate in life. I also wanted to foster the qualities that create new businesses, because they are the foundation of the prosperity of any nation.”

What our country needs

Sir Anthony Seldon commented: “Our country’s economy, post Brexit, needs entrepreneurship like never before. Our centre is geared precisely to develop the successful entrepreneurs of the future. We will be turning out graduates who are educated in a wide range of disciplines and who have a ‘can do’ attitude. My father, Arthur Seldon, who spent his career at the Institute for Economic Affairs and who helped inspire the founding of the University 43 years ago, would I believe be immensely proud of the way in which Lord Vinson, the IEA, our local LEP and Buckingham have joined forces to help shape a better future.”

Fostering economic freedom

IEA Director General, Mark Littlewood, said that the pioneering ethos of Buckingham chimed with the IEA’s own values, which include “fostering innovation and improving the understanding of the fundamental institutions of a free society.”

“The opening marks a milestone,” added Susanne Klatten, “establishing a vibrant ecosystem for entrepreneurship here in Buckinghatm to create a future with your own ideas, your own head and your own hands.”

The Vinson Centre was built by Beard Construction and the architects were Panther Hudspith.