University sparks new ideas and creative partnerships in Kazakhstan

Date 26.02.2019

University of Northampton recently co-ran its first entrepreneurship convention in partnership with Almaty Management University (AlmaU) in Kazakhstan and Kazakh Fashion Week – further strengthening ties with the country.

The Fashion Business Convention is the first of five business and skills training events to be delivered by the University of Northampton and its partners AlmaU in 2019. The events are aimed at fashion entrepreneurs based in Almaty.

The convention is part of a wider international project funded by the British Council – Creative Spark.

Creative Spark is a Higher Education Enterprise Programme aimed at supporting international university and institutional partnerships to develop enterprise skills and creative economy between the UK and Central Asia.

Gill Gourlay, Subject Leader for Marketing & Entrepreneurship; Iain Bromley, Senior Lecturer in Marketing, Sandy MacDonald, Senior Lecturer in Human Resource Management and Katerina Thomas, Senior Lecturer in Business Entrepreneurship were part of the team delivering the Fashion Business Convention in Kazakhstan, along with partners at AlmaU.

The speakers shared insights on a number of current trends in westernised Retail, Marketing and Entrepreneurship; including the rise of ‘On Demand’ consumer habits, the current changes in the physical retail environment and how western fashion uses social media.

Reflecting on the success of the convention, Iain said: “This was a hugely rewarding experience for both ourselves and, we hope, the participants also. The feedback we received and the interaction from the attendees was extremely encouraging. There are so many exciting innovations in fashion marketing and entrepreneurship – we hope this will be the start of a fruitful cultural and information exchange between the university and AlmaU.”

Creative Spark seeks to deliver enterprise skills training packages to students and creative entrepreneurs, ranging from pitching ideas and starting a business, to protecting intellectual property and securing financial support.

The British Council offer a number of English learning tools as part of the project and an opportunity to take part in a ‘video pitch’ competition, open to thousands of students across the participating countries next summer, with UK-based professional development courses as prizes.

Speaking about the University’s growing partnership, Sandy MacDonald said: “We started the Creative Spark project through our relationship with AlmaU, having already taken part in a very successful two year Erasmus+ staff mobility project with them. AlmaU is at the forefront of entrepreneurship education in Kazakhstan and its interests match with the university’s focus on enterprise and our Changemaker ethos.”