Within the UK, universities have been obtaining additional income by engaging in the commercialisation of scientific knowledge and general economic development. This paper examines the creation and growth of a centre for enterprise, based in a new university, which was established to give coherence to small firm related activities. The Centre for Enterprise (CfE) now has 21 full-time staff and a number of associate researchers who are engaged in a wide range of activities associated with the management of small and medium enterprises (SMEs) and the support of nascent entrepreneurs. The paper draws on the concept of ‘tipping points’ to demonstrate the way in which a number of crises were negotiated during the CfE’s growth. It demonstrates that issues of strategy and people management were particularly significant in pursuing a growth strategy, although strategy was incremental and evolutionary rather than based on the classical rational model associated with Ansoff. In summary, the CfE’s strategic orientation focused on building an organization which was entrepreneurial, flexible and responsive to new opportunities.
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