Free thinkers make choice

Vinson Centre opening

The University of Buckingham’s new £8 million Vinson Centre which will house the Centre for Economics and Entrepreneurship, was jointly opened this week by entrepreneur and vice-president of the Institute of Economic Affairs (IEA), Lord Vinson, and the Rt Hon Frank Field, independent Member of Parliament for Birkenhead (pictured).

Built by regional construction company Beard, the Vinson Centre will be dedicated to exploring the wide range of ideas, arguments and issues associated with the concept of a ‘constitution of liberty’ – the belief that limiting the power of government is an essential element of a free society.

As well as research collaborations between the University and the IEA, the centre will be used by economics students, research fellows, and for conferences and internships.  Those using the building will include students on the university’s pioneering Business Enterprise course, 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. Students will also be able to work on their businesses in a new Enterprise Hub and meet with entrepreneurs and business leaders.

The three-storey, 2,300 sq m building houses a 160-seat conference and lecture theatre, a library, bookshop, state-of-the-art coffee bar and study spaces.  The accommodation also provides nine seminar rooms and faculty and administration offices.

‘This has been an exciting construction project to build and we’re delighted to have had the opportunity to work with the University and help turn its vision of a world-class Centre for Economics and Entrepreneurship into a reality,’ said Dean Averies, Beard regional director. ‘We’re also proud to be associated with the creation of this influential learning ‘hub’ that is set to play a leading role in developing future generations of talented young entrepreneurs who are so vital to Britain’s long-term economic prosperity and global competitiveness.’

The Vinson Centre and its work has been made possible through a generous donation from Lord Vinson. The project received an additional £3 million grant from the Buckinghamshire Thames Valley Local Enterprise Partnership (BTVLEP) and the university’s German alumna and BMW heiress, Susanne Klatten, who donated €2 million to support the development of the Buckingham Enterprise and Innovation Unit (BEIU).

Lord Vinson explained: ‘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 and I also wanted to foster the qualities that create new businesses, because they are the foundation of the prosperity of any nation.’

Vice-Chancellor of The University of Buckingham, Sir Anthony Seldon, added: ‘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.’

Designed by Panther Hudspith Architects, the Vinson Building has been carefully oriented so that some of the lecture theatre’s height is hidden in the sloping ground.

December 5, 2018