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Place-based ecosystems: making connections between entrepreneurship and innovation

Monday, June 24th, 2019

A team of academics from the Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED) at Sheffield University Management School (SUMS) participated in an ESRC funded two-day workshop in Tokyo, Japan, exploring new insights into entrepreneurial ecosystems. Dr Chay Brooks, Dr Cristian Gherhes and Professor Tim Vorley are collaborating in a new project exploring the future of entrepreneurial ecosystems and the importance of innovation for the future of the UK economy. Dr Cristian Gherhes, a Research Associate at CREED commented: “The opportunity to be in Japan and participating in this event highlights the exciting work of CREED in pushing research horizons.”

The workshop, organised by Dr Fumi Kitagawa of the University of Edinburgh, brought together universities, government and innovative businesses from across the United Kingdom and Japan to discuss a range of emergent issues relating to global science and innovation policy. Speakers tackled topics ranging from the current approach of start-up policies to the past, present and future of ecosystems in both countries, as well as how entrepreneurial ecosystems are evaluated and measured.

The workshop programme included a series of high profile speakers from the British Embassy in Japan, the Ministry of Education, Culture, Sports, Science and Technology (also known as MEXT), Japanese Cabinet Office, Tokyo Metropolitan Government, Osaka Prefectural Government Office, Bureau of Industrial and Labour Affairs, alongside Universities across Tokyo. The team from CREED all acted as respondents across the panels, providing international reflection on the presentations.

Speaker at workshop In conjunction with Japanese partners CREED will continue to engage in this  programme of research going forward and will explore how entrepreneurial ecosystems are being developed in global contexts. The project sits alongside the ongoing relationship between SUMS and Kobe University, part of which CREED PhD student Sara Ballero is researching entrepreneurship and enterprise in rural areas.

This work forms part of a broader portfolio of interdisciplinary research led by CREED examining the policy and practice of innovation, entrepreneurship and regional economic development both in the UK and around the world. This project builds on continuing work with UK and international governments and organisations.

In commenting on the visit to Japan and participation in the event at the National Graduate Institute for Policy Studies Dr Chay Brooks said:

“This is an excellent example of CREED engaging in internationally leading initiatives. We are delighted to be part of this initiative funded by the Economic and Social Research Council and hope it leads to other opportunities.”

1st ReTraCE Network School

Thursday, May 30th, 2019
ReTraCE: Realising the Transition towards the Circular Economy
ReTraCE: Realising the Transition towards the Circular Economy

Sheffield University Management School will be hosting an international summer school (3-7 June 2019) focussed on Circular Economy.

A circular economy is an alternative to a traditional linear economy (make, use, dispose) in which we keep resources for as long as possible, extract the maximum value from them whilst in use, then recover and regenerate products and materials at the end of their useful life.

Realising the Transition to the Circular Economy (ReTraCE) is a €4 million research project funded by Horizon 2020 EU’s Marie Skłodowska-Curie Innovative Training Networks and led by the University of Sheffield. The project brings together world-leading experts from a wide set of beneficiaries and partners to achieve breakthroughs in understanding how the transition towards a circular economy can be realised – both within existing organisations and industries as well as through innovative and sustainable business models.

The Network School is the first project event associated with the ReTraCE project and brings together all members of the project from all over the world. Speakers include academics and practitioners from industry, public authorities and the third sector[.

Project leader, Professor Andrea Genovese said: “We are really looking forward to hosting the whole community of the ReTraCE project, and a lot of external guests, here in Sheffield.”

“We have tried our best to design an exciting training week. Participants will not only gain new knowledge and skills, but also establish a network of relationships which will fully equip a cohort of thought leaders capable of driving our transition towards a Circular Economy. The collective intelligence, enthusiasm and strength of our ESRs will be the true driving force of the project.”

There are a few places available for Early Career Researchers and students from other institutions that are not part of the ReTraCE consortium. To book a place, please contact Network Manager, Patrizia Baldi (

A full agenda of the event is available here.

Contributing to the global debate on entrepreneurship

Thursday, April 25th, 2019

Colleagues from the Management School have just returned from taking a team of eight students to the Global Entrepreneurship Congress (GEC) held in Bahrain where they debating the challenges facing the future of entrepreneurship.

Every year, the GEC gathers together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers, policymakers and other startup champions from more than 170 countries to identify new ways of helping founders start and scale new ventures around the world. This year’s event, hosted in Bahrain, was attended by a team of eight high-achieving students from the University’s Faculty of Social Sciences. Led by the Management School’s Dr Chay Brooks and supported by Professor Tim Vorley and Dr Cristian Gherhes, the team worked as policy analysts to identify and explain the challenges that many countries are facing to address economic and social imperatives as well as the roadmaps for the future of entrepreneurship.

  • The GEC brings together thousands of entrepreneurs, investors, researchers and policymakers to understand the global dimensions of entrepreneurship and innovation. The Congress aims to support participants in gaining new insights and connecting people across borders. The 2019 edition focused on the themes of a global entrepreneurial revolution, inclusive entrepreneurship and high-performance ecosystems with the goal to grow economies and expand human welfare through innovative and sustainable means.

    Sheffield’s team produced a a series of live blogs and policy briefs during the GEC which have been published online in the Global Policy journal. The students were able to develop their skills as as policy analysts by providing critical reflections on the global dimensions of policies that aim to promote entrepreneurial-led growth. Another key part of the experience involved engaging with successful entrepreneurs, academics and important stakeholders from government and non-governmental institutions who play major roles in the development of local, national and international policies.

    Attendance at the GEC was part of Sheffield’s Global Leadership Initiative (GLI) which gives undergraduate and postgraduate taught students from the Faculty of Social Sciences the opportunity to attend major international summits. GLI activities provide students with first-hand experience of international policy debates at the highest level and produce outputs visible to an international audience thereby enhancing their research skills and employability.

    Dr Chay Brooks is a Lecturer in International Entrepreneurship at Sheffield University Management School. Professor Tim Vorley is a Professor of Entrepreneurship at Sheffield University Management School. Dr Cristian Gherhes is a Research Associate at Sheffield University Management School. The GLI Team working as policy analysts at the GEC were Jocelyne Girgis (Law), Dominik Brauchart (Management School), Salifyanji Simwanza (Economics), William Szabo (Management School), Louise Litten (Politics), Lars Kjoellesdal (Management School), Syeda Zahra (Management School), and Joseph Dunn (Economics).

    Mentoring students brought great results for engineering boss

    Thursday, April 4th, 2019

    Award-winning Chesterfield company Thermotex has a new engineer onboard.

    Thanks to its boss taking the time to mentor students. MD Chloe Watmore was asked by the University of Sheffield to set a real-time challenge for its Management School to tackle. She jumped at the chance to bring fresh new ideas into her business while helping students learn.

    The project was an all-round success. Students on the international module of their MBA gained invaluable experience. And Chloe gained not only a new company strategy for developing overseas markets – but also a Texan mechanical engineer. MBA graduate Paige Niehues has joined the thermal solutions specialist as Commercial and Technical Executive. She has years of experience in the oil and gas sector, a core specialism for Thermotex.

    The award-winning 24-year-old company custom-designs high-performance insulation jackets and heat tracing systems relied on for temperature control by companies around the globe – from oil and gas refineries in the Arctic Circle to international construction companies and UK chocolate factories.

    Chloe said: “The Management School invited me to bring a live business issue to students. We have exported for many years, but we want to establish new overseas markets and asked four groups of students to research this and come up with strategies. I was really impressed and developed a company strategy which merged all four.

    “Paige was in one of the groups. She reached out to me while working on her dissertation on the digitalisation of manufacturing, which Thermotex is heavily invested in.

    “I worked with her and she so impressed me I offered her a job. She is now implementing the new overseas growth strategy she helped to create.”

    Chloe joined the company her parents founded in 1995 as a 20-year-old Economics graduate. She revolutionised factory processes, grew international trade and led the company to record growth.

    Chloe added: “Working with the University of Sheffield was extremely rewarding. We have pledged to continue this partnership and I would urge other businesses to get involved. It’s an opportunity to provide students with exciting, real-world case studies and to bring smart, creative new ideas into your business.”

    Chloe has now asked this year’s students to assist Thermotex in expanding its manufacturing presence overseas.

    New recruit Paige began her career in Houston as a product design engineer with a large oil and gas company. She moved to the UK after meeting her future husband at her employers’ manufacturing plant in Leeds and enrolled at the University of Sheffield to study for an MBA in 2017.

    Paige commented: “When Chloe came to my university she really impressed me, I am thrilled to now be working for her. Thermotex is an exciting place to be. The company is constantly striving to embrace new tech, improve processes and grow exports and partnerships.

    “I’m enjoying applying my past engineering experience with what I learned in my MBA. and helping the company to grow.”

    Dr Vasilios Theoharakis, Director of MBA Programmes at the University of Sheffield, said: “We are delighted with Paige’s success in securing a role at Thermotex, which came as a result of working on a company-based project while attending the Sheffield MBA.

    “Such projects enhance student experience, and this one allowed Thermotex to recognise Paige’s talent, which resulted in her recruitment. With an average of around 10 years of work experience, Sheffield MBA students are equipped to add value to the businesses they work with.”

    Find out more about our MBA programme.

    Addressing the productivity challenge in the UK

    Tuesday, March 12th, 2019

    Academics, policymakers and business leaders from across the UK are set to gather in Sheffield tomorrow 13 March 2019 to tackle one of the UK’s most pressing economic challenges: how to raise productivity.

    They will gather in Sheffield for a conference titled ‘Changing the Tone of the Debate’. The conference is organised by the Productivity Insights Network at the Sheffield University Management School.

    The event will take place in the University’s historic Firth Hall building and will hosted by Lord Jim O’Neill. Prominent figures including Sir Paul Collier, Professor Jennifer Rubin, and Mr Murray Sherwin will deliver keynote addresses looking at how to address productivity discrepancies across Britain, how productivity varies in practice, and how research can help solve this productivity puzzle.

    Professor Tim Vorley, Sheffield University Management School,  said, “Given the highly regional nature of the productivity puzzle it is fantastic that the University of Sheffield is hosting the Productivity Insights Network conference, which brings a number of leading figures together to advance thinking on the productivity puzzle.”

    “The Productivity Insights Network is leading a major programme of work bringing together researchers, policymakers, businesses and civil society stakeholders to change the tone of the productivity debate and what this means for people and places across the UK.”

    For more information about the Productivity Insights Network, visit:

    University of Sheffield’s Management School to host Speak Out Initiative

    Tuesday, March 5th, 2019

    • The Speak Out Initiative works with young people under-represented in higher education
    • Run by Dr Andreana Drencheva, the initiative partners with local businesses to mentor groups of young people
    • Teams of young people will present their ideas for social change at the University of Sheffield on 15 March 2019

    The University of Sheffield will host a competition for a project set up to develop academic, employability, and active citizenship skills in young people.

    The Speak Out Initiative, run by Dr Andreana Drencheva from the Sheffield University Management School, works with young people under-represented in higher education to enhance their academic and career aspirations.

    The initiative is run in partnership with local businesses Irwin Mitchell, Jaywing, BHP and Andy Hanselman consulting. This year’s participating schools are Meadowhead, Chaucer and Sheffield Park Academy.

    For six weeks groups of young people meet with mentors from the University of Sheffield and businesses to work on a project for social change. The initiative is designed to help develop skills, such as collaborative problem solving, communicating in diverse teams, and decision making. 

    This year’s challenge is tackling loneliness and the teams will have to research the problem in their local community and develop a project that will make a meaningful difference.

    The final projects will be presented to representatives from the University, businesses, and Age UK at an event on Friday 15 March 2019 at The Edge. The groups must demonstrate the sustainability of the project, why it makes a difference and what resources it would need.

    Dr Drencheva said:

    “The initiative is a meaningful and authentic way to express our historic roots and civic commitment to our communities, while also enhancing the employability of our current learners.”

    “It’s a unique opportunity for the young people involved to develop new employability and citizenship skills, to experience university life first-hand and to meet authentic role models who share their experiences to demystify the multiple options young people have after school.”

    The competition day also includes networking and reflection to help the young people identify their strengths, areas for development and the pathways open to them after school.

    Speak Out has been running since 2016, and evaluation from prior years shows that 93 per cent of the young people considered the initiative was helpful in developing team-working skills and 94 per cent found it useful for developing communications skills.

    The teams of young people will present their ideas for social change at the University of Sheffield as part of the final competition on 15 March 2019.

    £1 million state-of-the-art Doctoral Research Centre launched at Sheffield University Management School

    Tuesday, February 26th, 2019

    PhD student Paula Kohn in the newly refurbished Doctoral Research Centre.

    • An investment of over £1m provides exceptionally high-quality working and social spaces for Sheffield University Management School PhD researchers
    • The refurbishments improve the professional research environment providing more accessible, flexible spaces

    Management School PhD students are set to benefit from an investment of over £1 million to improve the Doctoral Research Centre, in a bid to further boost student experience and enhance the School’s professional research environment.

    The latest addition to the facilities at Sheffield University Management School includes completely refurbished working and social spaces for PhD students. The Doctoral Research Centre, as it will be known, is located on Northumberland Road and has been designed to provide an exceptionally high-quality environment for its users. The makeover provides students with world-class facilities and a professional, flexible working environment that will inspire the next generation of researchers.

    The improvements made to the building will ensure an enhanced student experience for doctoral students in the Management School. A key focus of the improvement works was on enabling a strong sense of community to flourish among students. To meet these needs, flexible working spaces such as hot-desking and silent study facilities were created and the building is equipped with improved accessibility features. The improved infrastructure will encourage productive collaboration between students.

    The refurbishment stands as a tangible example of the School’s commitment to improving its students’ experience and as a Triple Crown Accredited institution lives up to the exacting standards expected of an elite, world-class management school.

    Dr Caroline Oates, Director of Postgraduate Studies in the Sheffield University Management School, said:

     “I am delighted that our students will benefit from an investment of over £1 million in facilities designed specifically for PhD students and their research”.

    “The creation of the Doctoral Research Centre and its focus on developing communities of researchers will help the Sheffield University Management School continue to thrive as an international centre of research excellence”.

    “These new facilities give us the environment and space we need to continue to develop the next generation of scholars”.

    Paula Kohn, a PhD student from Brazil, said:

    “The new upgrade has brought to our Doctoral Centre a fresh modern look with an up-to-date professional environment, creating a collective surrounding that facilitates mutual collaboration and support. I feel privileged and very comfortable here”.

    The Doctoral Research Centre opened to students in early 2019. For more information about doctoral study with the Sheffield University Management School, visit:

    Innovation in the professional services sector

    Tuesday, May 22nd, 2018
    • A new report from Sheffield University Management School explores innovation and technological change in the professional services sector.
    • The report finds that data and external factors are key drivers for innovation, whilst organisational cultures, cost, capacity and risk are common barriers.
    • Firms must become more open and receptive to innovation to sustain the UK’s position as a global leader in the professional services sector.


    A report on innovation in business and professional services firms has been published today, led by colleagues at Sheffield University Management School in conjunction with BPS Birmingham. The research, funded by the National Productivity Investment Fund through the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC), explores opportunities for technological change, including AI and Machine Learning, as well as the challenges they present.

    The legal and accountancy sector have historically both under-invested and under-utilised technology, and so there is considerable scope for transformational change. The scoping study highlights a series of organisational and cultural barriers to the adoption and diffusion of innovation.


    The findings from 34 in-depth semi-structured interviews with senior partners and/or innovation officers in mid-tier and large legal and accountancy firms highlight 5 key issues:

    1. That external factors were found to have a significant influence on the attitudes of firms towards innovation, and in many instances the incentives to innovate were client-led or to ensure regulatory compliance.
    2. The power of data should not be overlooked. Data is likely to become a more significant source of future competitive advantage, as well as a driver for innovation.
    3. The dominant firm structures and organisational cultures of accountancy and legal firms were found to present barriers to the adoption and diffusion of innovation.
    4. The nature of innovation will have different impacts on the sector. Some innovations will enhance the business offer, while other innovations threaten to cannibalise the core business.
    5. Cost, capacity and risk were consistently identified as barriers to the adoption and diffusion of technological and organisational innovation.

    The prominence of ‘Next Generation Service’ as the focus of one of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) is testament to the importance with which the Government views the business and professional services sector. The aim of the ISCF is to enable researchers and businesses to work together to identify and develop new ways to create value as well as stimulate productivity and growth.

    The report concludes that if UK is to sustain its position as a global leader in the professional services sector, firms need to become more open and receptive to the adoption and diffusion of innovation. Many legal and accounting firms have established business models, with innovations typically incremental and slow to be adopted. Whilst artificial intelligence and machine learning are only in their infancy, their potentially transformative power can be seen already and are firmly on the horizon.

    The lead author of the research, Dr Chay Brooks, commented that “The findings highlight the need to challenge established norms in many legal and accounting firms which are slow to innovate and change. These established norms pose a threat to future competitiveness and growth.”

    Executive Director of BPS Birmingham, Hilary Allen, explained “Given that services account for 80% of the economy, it is right that they increasingly form the focus of research and policy”. She also highlighted that “More than ever, the sector needs to think beyond business as usual and challenge the status quo if its leading position is to be maintained.”

    Associate Dean for Engagement, Impact and Innovation at Sheffield University Management School and co-author of the report, Professor Tim Vorley commented “This scoping study highlights the importance of working with the sector to understand the issue faced, and is the first step in addressing them. Through our work with BPS Birmingham we are laying the foundations for a UK-wide study that aims to identify overcome the barriers identified in this study”.

    For more information on this scoping study or to get involved with future research associate with innovation in the professional services sector please contact Dr Chay Brooks ( or Prof Tim Vorley (


    Read the full report here.

    Global ranking for the Sheffield MBA

    Monday, February 6th, 2017


    The Sheffield MBA has entered the QS Global rankings, acknowledged particularly for its superior research and employability offer.

    The programme, with its focus on entrepreneurship, leadership and consultancy, continues to grow in profile and prestige. Director of MBA Programmes, Dr Vasilios Theoharakis, said: “This ranking is testament to our exceptional, ambitious students and a great deal of determination from the Management School team.”

    “We’re delighted to see our MBA acknowledged in this world-leading forum and will ensure that we continue on this upward trajectory.”

    2016 saw Dr Theoharakis and Ian Proctor, Executive Programme Manager, take the lead on the Management School’s executive offer – they have created exciting developments for our MBA.

    Ian continued: “Our full-time MBA will equip you with the skillset to rethink your future – it’s appropriate that the programme now ranks amongst the best in the world. Students benefit from a dynamic learning environment, as well as our comprehensive Career Accelerator Programme and Leadership Dinner series which gives individuals exposure to some of the leading business people in the UK.”

    Click here to explore the rankings.

    Driving student satisfaction at SUMS

    Wednesday, August 12th, 2015

    The latest National Student Survey (NSS) results have been published today (12 August 2015) and they show Management School students are more satisfied than ever before with the quality of their course.

    This year’s results show a significant increase in satisfaction with 93% of Management School students satisfied with the overall quality of their course. The increase means the school is now ranked third in the Russell Group for course satisfaction.

    The School saw increases in satisfaction across all areas of the NSS, including ‘the teaching on my course’, ‘assessment and feedback’, ‘academic support’ and ‘personal development’.

    At course level, satisfaction on our BA (Hons) Business Management increased by 26 percentage points to 98%, whilst 91% of students on our BA (Hons) Accounting and Financial Management were satisfied overall.

    Professor Paul Latreille, Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching at Sheffield University Management School, commented on the results: “I’m delighted to see such a significant increase in overall student satisfaction. The results are a testament to the commitment and dedication of staff who strive to deliver an outstanding student experience. Student feedback is invaluable to us as it allows us to review our offer and make changes to continually improve the student experience. The school’s vision is to ‘to be recognised as a leading international management school known for delivering an outstanding student experience and impactful socially-responsible research in a collegiate learning environment’ and today’s results bring us another step closer to achieving this.”


    The NSS surveys final-year undergraduates studying for higher education qualifications at higher education institutions (HEIs) and further education colleges (FECs) in England and Wales, and HEIs in Northern Ireland and Scotland. The threshold for publication of the responses for each question is that at least 10 students must have responded, and that these should represent at least half the students eligible to participate. 74% of eligible Management School students took part in the NSS in 2015. Due to lower response rates, responses from students on BA (Hons) International Business Management are not available.

    Unless otherwise stated, figures quoted above relate to responses by Joint Academic Coding System (JACS) subject area ‘N’ at the University of Sheffield.