‘Geography, Open Innovation, Diversity and Entrepreneurship’: 19th Uddevalla Symposium at Birkbeck

This post was contributed by James Fisk, graduate administrator at the School of Business, Economics and Informatics. Here, James reports from the 19th Uddevalla Symposium, held at Birkbeck from 30 June to 2 July 2016.

Delegates network at the 19th Uddevalla Symposium held at Birkbeck this summer

Delegates network at the 19th Uddevalla Symposium held at Birkbeck this summer

“Silicon Valley is a mind-set, not a location” Reid Hoffman, co-founder of LinkedIn, once said. Indeed, his emphasis on ethos over geography is an interesting one, but successful entrepreneurial ecosystems, in an age of innovation increasingly dominated by monoliths such as Google and Microsoft, can be far more challenging and problematic than his assertion suggests. Can, and should, an innovation system such as Silicon Valley be replicated elsewhere?

This was just one of many questions up for discussion as Birkbeck hosted the 19th Uddevalla Symposium between the 30th June and 2nd July, the first time the symposium has been held in the UK. The three-day symposium which looks to bring together cutting edge research from leading academics, researchers and practitioners invited attendees to consider this year’s themes of ‘Geography, Open Innovation, Diversity and Entrepreneurship’.

Invited by Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Research Management (CIMR), researchers from across the globe came together for the annual symposium, with over 50 papers up for discussion, over 150 attendees arriving from 27 countries and expertise from fields as diverse as Canadian aerospace and Swedish E-Government.

Master of Birkbeck, Professor David Latchman CBE, conducted the formal opening of the event and welcomed an array of scholars, entrepreneurs and researchers to the college. Over the following three days, attendees heard keynote speeches from leading scholars in the morning, before parallel paper sessions saw fervent debate spread across Birbeck’s Bloomsbury campus in the afternoon. With at least four parallel sessions available on each day, it was a productive and busy few days for those interested in entrepreneurship and innovation.

As the latest research from across the world was to be found at Birkbeck, the symposium offered the chance for not only sharing papers, but for formulating new ideas and cultivating collaboration across industries, disciplines and national borders.

Speaking at the event, Birkbeck Professor of Entrepreneurship Helen Lawton Smith said: “It’s a huge privilege to host this event and bring together diverse and important strands of research in one place.”

CIMR logoSo, can, and should, we look to replicate Silicon Valley? The answer is, unfortunately, not as straight forward as the question. With Keynote speeches such as Professor Wim Vanhaverbeke’s (Hasselt University) ‘Open Innovation in SMEs’ and Professor Gary Cook’s  (University of Liverpool) ‘Cities and International Entrepreneurship: Towards an Integration of International Business, Economics, Geography and Urban Economics Perspectives’ attesting to the many complex regional and international factors that make-up often delicate entrepreneurial ecosystems across the planet.

The annual symposium ended on Saturday 2nd July, with PhD candidate Tina Wallin (Jönköping International Business School) winning the best PhD candidate paper award for her paper ‘Labour Knowledge Complementarity and Firm Innovativeness’. Professor Ashish Arora (Fuqua School of Business, Duke University), Professor Suma Athreye (Brunel Business School, Brunel University) and Dr Can Huang (Institute for Intellectual Property Management, School of Management, Zhejiang University) won the best paper award for their work ‘The Paradox of Openness Revisited: Collaborative Innovation and Patenting by UK Innovators’.

Those wishing to read more can find a wealth of information on the Uddevalla symposium website, where you can find working papers, previous winning papers and keep track of upcoming events. For similar events looking at innovation and entrepreneurship, check out Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research (CIMR) webpage.

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