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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.”

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).


    Government-commissioned research led by University of Sheffield will help law and accountancy firms adopt new technologies

    Thursday, November 29th, 2018

    • Research project will help mid-sized law and accountancy firms adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies – helping to improve the productivity and prosperity of cities and regions across the UK
    • Sheffield University Management School-led project is one of three successful bids to the Industrial Strategy Challenges Fund Next Generation Services call

    A major new research project led by the University of Sheffield will help mid-sized law and accountancy firms adopt artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies to improve productivity.

    A team of researchers, led by Professor Tim Vorley from the University of Sheffield’s Management School, is one of three successful bids to the Industrial Strategy Challenges Fund (ISCF) Next Generation Services call.

    The research, commissioned by the UK government, will focus on helping people adopt new technologies.
    Professor Vorley will lead a team of colleagues from the University of Sheffield; Lancaster University; Manchester Business School; The University of the Arts, London; as well as non-academic partners the Managing Partners’ Forum and Normann Partners.

    The project, Innovating Next Generation Services through Collaborative Design, will focus on firms that are cautious or uncertain over how to implement technological change.

    Rather than focusing solely on new technologies, the research will involve exploratory prototyping of solutions designed in collaboration with firms to enable a rapid generation and assessment of potential future applications of artificial intelligence across businesses. This is critical if adoption within sector firms is to be broadened.

    The services sector accounts for almost 80 per cent of the UK economy, with professional services the largest sub-sector representing 11 per cent of GDP.

    Professor Vorley said: “Understanding the transformative potential of AI involves looking at individual firms, the outcomes provided to clients, and the business processes and predictions that are deployed.

    “Our project will focus on understanding the technological and behavioural barriers facing mid-sized legal and accountancy firms, and suggesting potential solutions, as this is the segment where intervention will have maximum impact on the continued success of the overall sector.”

    Dr Chay Brooks, a co-investigator at Sheffield University Management School, added: “The adoption of AI will have a transformative impact on professional service businesses. Given the emphasis in the Industrial Strategy on the place agenda, our work focusing on mid-tier legal and accountancy firms is important for the productivity and prosperity of cities and regions across the UK.”

    Richard Chapin, a co-investigator from the Managing Partners’ Forum. said: “The potential of AI remains hypothetical unless and until the leadership team at a firm has the authority, confidence and knowledge to persuade frontline advisers to embrace new ways of working. ‘Command & control’ is seldom a viable route to bring about change at a professional firm.”

    Business Secretary, the Rt Hon Greg Clark MP, said: “The UK is the home of AI – from Alan Turing’s pioneering work to today’s growing use of AI throughout the economy. Artificial Intelligence is changing how we work, live and play.

    “Through our modern Industrial Strategy, we want to build on our history of innovation to develop and deploy AI to create new opportunities and improve services across the whole economy.”

    (more…)

    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 (c.brooks@sheffield.ac.uk) or Prof Tim Vorley (tim.vorley@sheffield.ac.uk)

     

    Read the full report here.

    Real-world insight: Our students pitch AECOM entrepreneurship expertise

    Friday, December 9th, 2016

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    Entrepreneurship is about more than individuals starting businesses – in fact increasingly, big businesses are thinking and working more entrepreneurially.

    As a part of our MSc Entrepreneurship and Management, students pitched ideas for entrepreneurship inside an organisation to directors at AECOM, a multinational engineering firm.

    The module leader, Dr Chay Brooks, emphasised the importance of working with AECOM on the module, explaining: “Visiting AECOM is a great opportunity for our students and is a part of the learning experience, the contribution of AECOM to the module brings the realities of entrepreneurial activity in a corporate setting to life.”

    This semester, students have studied the theory and practice of how big businesses are looking to create environments that encourage employees to be more entrepreneurial, while continuing to deliver their core business. Our collaboration with AECOM gives students a unique opportunity to see how an organisation with over 90,000 employees is changing its working practices to become more innovative and entrepreneurial. As a part of the module students have had guest lecturers by AECOM staff that provide real-world insights, and as a part of their final assessment they presented their recommendations for them to become a more entrepreneurial organisation.

    Professor Tim Vorley, Director of the Centre for Regional for Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED), who developed the relationship with AECOM, said: “Taking our students out of the Management School to present their work in a corporate environment is a fantastic opportunity for them, and it is great to see them rising to the challenge as they pitch their ideas.”

    The MSc Entrepreneurship and Management provides students with an understanding of entrepreneurship in different countries and contexts, as well as from start-ups to corporate organisation.

    In 2017 Sheffield University Management School is hosting the EFMD Entrepreneurship Education Conference, the theme of which focuses on ‘Entrepreneurship inside Organisations’. This area of entrepreneurship education is of growing in interest to business and management schools, and is one in which Sheffield is a leading by example.

    Click here to find out more about the conference.

    CREED opens doors to promoting social entrepreneurship in Europe

    Tuesday, November 29th, 2016

    Group  Open-Mind-Logo

    Breaking down barriers to business creation – the Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED) is joining eight organisations from across Europe in piloting a digital course in social entrepreneurship for women and students from non-business studies backgrounds.

    The initiative, called Open Mind, is an Erasmus+ project which over two years will develop a Massive Open Online Course (MOOC) in social entrepreneurship; a gamified online platform which serves as an inspiring learning environment, and an impact assessment report. Members of CREED, Dr Robert Wapshott, Dr Chay Brooks, Kate Penney and Prof Tim Vorley, attended the kick-off meeting in Athens with other academic partners. Tim said: “This is an excellent EU project drawing on CREED’s collective experience in entrepreneurship teaching and research. We are excited to be part of the partnership, aimed at developing new ways to foster entrepreneurship for social change.”

    This project is key for social and economic progress in Europe. Despite the positive impact that social enterprises have, the majority of entrepreneurship courses are offered in business and economic studies so most students can’t take part. Data shows that two-thirds of young people and women in EU believe they do not have the knowledge or skills to start a business – the outcomes from this project will address this gap.

    Kate said: “The MOOC will introduce students to the fundamentals of social entrepreneurship, as well as covering areas such as identifying opportunities, creating a business model and business plan, attracting investors and getting your enterprise off the ground. An e-book featuring 50 inspiring female start-up entrepreneurs will also inspire the learners.

    “The game elements incorporated into the learning environment will create a participative environment where students can explore business concepts, develop key skills and work on real-world case-studies. It will also operate in five languages, expanding the reach of the project.”

    At the end of the two-year development stage, the team will outline the project’s major outcomes and establish support to sustain the project.

    Click here to stay up-to-date with project news.

    EU-Erasmus

    Project No: 2016-1-BG01-KA203-023754. This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This communication reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.

    CREED summer school explores migrant entrepreneurship

    Tuesday, August 30th, 2016

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    Dr Chay Brooks from the Centre for Regional Economic and Enterprise Development (CREED) has been leading the European Entrepreneurship Summer School held at the University of Sheffield’s International Faculty in Greece. The summer school, now in its seventh year, is held in conjunction with our international partners from University of Groningen (Netherlands), High School of Economics (Russia), and the University of Twente (Netherlands).

    Dr Brooks said: “It has been amazing week with the students learning about entrepreneurship in the sun! We have had a great range of international speakers sharing insights from their research.”

    Across the week students were involved in a series of lectures, workshops and debates in different areas of entrepreneurship. This year the central theme of summer school was the socio-economic impacts of migrant entrepreneurship, which is an important issue in Europe. During the week students had sessions by academics on research including informal entrepreneurship, technology entrepreneurship, corporate entrepreneurship and entrepreneurship and public policy.

    Dr Robert Wapshott, who also taught at the summer school, explained: “The aim of the event is to bring together students from across Europe to learn about and debate cutting edge entrepreneurship research.”

    During the week students worked in international teams to develop in-depth presentations on some of the big questions facing entrepreneurship research. As the teams explored their topic in depth they sought to unpack the complexities of creating more entrepreneurial individuals, organisations and societies. The team awarded the best presentation included Ann Lozovaia and Alexander Kalita from HSE, Tuong Nguyen from Leipzig and Zhuang Jing from Sheffield, who gave a critical account about the importance of informal entrepreneurship.

    Reflecting on her participation in the summer school, Kelly Lawrence, a Sheffield student, said: “The summer school was a fantastic opportunity to meet other students interested in entrepreneurship research. The programme was excellent and we all had a brilliant week.”

    The CREED team participating in the summer school this year led by Dr Chay Brooks. It also included Dr Robert Wapshott, Dr Peter Rodgers, Cristian Gherhes and Professor Tim Vorley. Next year the summer school will be held in Moscow and the topic will be on green and sustainable entrepreneurship. If you’re interested in applying to take part, watch this space.

     

     

     

    Linking social science and innovation

    Wednesday, November 11th, 2015

    Prof Tim Vorley from the Management School is leading the Innovation Caucus – a new initiative developed and funded by Innovate UK and the Economic and Social Research Council to facilitate closer collaboration between these governmental and academic communities.

    Working with Dr Chay Brooks at Sheffield, and a range of academics from other national universities, Prof Vorley will drive the Caucus to promote knowledge exchange between social science researchers and Innovate UK with the aim to support the innovation ecosystem.

    Recent activity from the team has provided briefings to the government which should shape decisions made in the up-coming spending review, looking at different ways of funding enterprise and innovation in the UK.

    The primary goal of the Innovation Caucus is to demonstrate and promote the value of social science research to Innovation UK. It will enhance its impact and build connections. To find out more, watch their introduction video:

    You can connect with the Innovation Caucus on their website or via Twitter.