A massive thank you to Dr Elinor Vettraino, Professors Mark Hart and Monder Ram and the rest of the Aston team who, in conjunction with Dr Charlotte Carey and others from Birmingham City University, delivered a very well attended and positively regarded ISBE 2023 conference last week! We saw a welcome return of international delegates and ISBE newcomers and ECRs were delighted to meet the people behind the international research papers they have referenced so frequently. As ever, ISBE 2023 was a warm, welcoming and supportive conference where academically rigorous and interesting research provided food for thought, new ideas and potentially new collaborations.
The thought-provoking plenaries and the ISBE Gender and Enterprise SIG (GENSIG) event exploring ‘How do we design enterprise ecosystems that work for women?’, critically explored how entrepreneurship might be supported among different, and often traditionally disadvantaged, social groups and geographic locations. During the opening plenary, Dr Jonathan Potter, Head of the Entrepreneurship Policy Unit at OECD, provided an overview of the evidence base leading to calls from panellists including Jane Galsworthy, Oxford Innovation Advice, and Professor Monder Ram, CREME at Aston, for more disaggregated data which echoed calls from the GENSIG ecosystem event that morning. Prof. Nola Hewitt-Dundas provided pause for thought in relation to the role of Universities in supporting economic development and how the current challenges within the sector may constrain such activities.
In light of the increasing weighting the Research Excellence Framework (REF) is attaching to research impact, the ISBE 2023 focus upon engaged scholarship was both timely and informative. The second panel session saw Professor Monder Ram, an advocate of engaged scholarship, share the findings of the ‘Time to Change’ report from CREME (Centre for Research into Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurs) which outlines the evidence base and supports required to support ethnic minority entrepreneurship. Monder was joined by representatives from Natwest and Business Growth West Midlands who highlighted how their practice has been informed by working in partnership with CRÈME to better serve ethnic minority individuals in the West Midlands region. In the closing plenary, Dr Jonathan Potter outlined a useful future research agenda. This was followed by Professor Pablo Munoz, University of Durham, discussing the co-creation of imagined futures using his work relating to the mental health and well-being of entrepreneurs as an example. These examples and the accompanying explanatory approach and call to action brought engaged scholarship to life and made it accessible to ECRs and interested others in attendance.
Key take-aways from this conference were first, the need for long-term relationship building among institutions within regions, despite shorter-term election and related funding cycles, to support regional entrepreneurial performance and more equitable access to, and outcomes from, entrepreneurial activity. The second clarion call from this conference was the need for disaggregated data to illustrate where funding is being spent and who is benefitting from the services provided; without the insight provided from such data we cannot identify which places or social groups remain under-served.
On behalf of the ISBE board I would like to extend our thanks to Lynn for her hard work and unstinting commitment which helped deliver, in conjunction with our student volunteers, another successful ISBE conference. On a personal note, I would also like to thank everyone who took the time to send their warm wishes and congratulations on my appointment as President. Across the next two years, I will endeavour to ensure that ISBE addresses the needs and priorities of its institutional and individual members through a programme of activity as relevant, invigorating and informative as this year’s annual conference!
Don’t forget, ISBE 2024 takes place in Sheffield 6th-7th November, put it in your diaries now!