Experts from over 35 countries meet in Belfast to debate ‘borders’ in entrepreneurial research
Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) held its annual conference in Belfast on the 8th and 9th of November.
The ISBE Conference has become one of the major events in the entrepreneurial calendar; bringing together over 350 highly-acclaimed academics, speakers and business leaders from over 35 countries, to inform, engage and debate the issues relating to small business.
During the two days, experts debated the latest research in small business and entrepreneurship across 16 themed tracks, including Gender & Enterprise, Business Creation and Family & Community Business.
This year’s conference theme ’Borders, prosperity and entrepreneurial responses,’ while influenced by the advent of BREXIT and its possible impact on small businesses and entrepreneurial endeavour, also recognised that ‘bordered thinking’ can exist more widely in entrepreneurship research and practice.
The conference opened with a welcome from Professor Paddy Nixon, President of Ulster University Business School, followed by an address from Lisa Toland of Belfast City Council who spoke about the City’s significant investment in small business and entrepreneurship. On the second day, delegates were invited to tour the Council’s business incubator, Innovation Factory, and meet with some of the entrepreneurs and business-owners it supports.
Keynote speaker Professor Barbara J. Orser of Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa, shared her thoughts about how academia can build bridges across ‘bordered’ thinking.
Professor Neil Gibson, Chief Economist at EY (Ireland), then asked the question ‘Why are borders coming back?’, considering the socio-economic drivers at play, and highlighting the opportunities that radical change can offer.
Headline sponsors for the international conference were Ulster University Business School (UUBS), Belfast City Council and the Federation for Small Business, and the Institute also welcomed support from Invest NI, Visit Belfast, IOEE (Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs), the Local Enterprise Offices of Louth and of Meath, Northumbria University, Dundalk Institute of Technology, Liverpool University School of Management and Ulster University.
Prof Pauric McGowan, Past President of ISBE, who presided over the conference, expressed his satisfaction with the outcome of the two days, saying “The event provided delegates with an opportunity to meet with like-minded individuals, to present their latest research and to hear the research output of others, and to listen to keynote speakers who spoke with passion and authority on their subject. They had an opportunity to engage in debate about current issues in entrepreneurial research, to be provoked, stimulated, and engaged. They had opportunities to meet long-standing friends and to make new ones”.
Prof Gideon Maas, President of ISBE for the following two years, in his opening remarks mentioned that he wants to focus on two specific areas, namely the internationalisation of ISBE and addressing the cooperation between academia, industry and government. Prof Maas said “ISBE has an important role to fulfil promoting small business and entrepreneurship in the UK and beyond its borders. We need to focus on achieving sustainable growth in economies represented by our members.””
Delegates also enjoyed the conference’s Gala Dinner at the Titanic Belfast where they were entertained by traditional Irish dancers and a keynote speech by Dr James Nesbitt OBE, Chancellor of Ulster University, actor, comedian and entrepreneur.
Outputs from the conference will be shared in due course via the Institute’s website at www.isbe.org.uk
Photographs from the conference are now available via the Institute’s Flickr account.
The 2018 ISBE conference will be held in Birmingham from the 7th to the 8th of November.