Tag Archives: innovation

Challenges and opportunities for university-business co-creation: comparative perspectives from the UK and US

Organised by the Centre for Innovation Management Research, this panel event explored how universities and businesses can build mutually beneficial partnerships from an international perspective.

On Wednesday 19 February, Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research was proud to welcome academics and consultants alike to a guest seminar led by Professor Helen Lawton Smith and chaired by Dr Renos Savva.

The title of the discussion was Challenges and Opportunities for University-Business Co-Creation, with Adrian Day, Dr Federica Rossi, Professor Tomasz Mroczkowski and Evelyn Wilson each bringing their individual expertise to the panel.

Throughout this fascinating event, each panellist outlined their view of the ever-changing relationship between universities and private enterprise. With a focus on international perspectives; from Japan to Sweden, the US and the UK, attendees were encouraged to outline their experience of joint ventures. Moreover, in discussing the dichotomy between government policy and evolving attitudes towards innovation, the role of today’s universities was brought into the debate.

In looking to the future, this event sought to compare the varying attitudes towards university-business co-creation, with an aim to building new and sustainable partnerships throughout the academic and entrepreneurial spheres.

Thank you to everyone who attended and made this event such a success!

  • Dr Renos Savva, a Senior Lecturer in Biological Sciences at Birkbeck, and co-founder of the Birkbeck-UCL-ICR start-up, Domainex Ltd., which is now an established biotech sector SME based in the Cambridge area.
  • Adrian Day has spent over 15 years working at the interface between academia and the economy, covering all aspects from design of data systems to providing direct advice to the Minister for Universities.
  • Dr Federica Rossi is Senior Lecturer in Business Economics at Birkbeck.
  • Dr Tomasz Mroczkowski, American University, has studied and written about innovation, the management of change, and economic transition for most of his career.
  • Evelyn Wilson is a Founder/Director of The Culture Capital Exchange, established in 2011 and was Senior Manager at its previous iteration London Centre for Arts and Cultural Exchange.

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London students envision a greener future with Creative Hack

The two-day hackathon supported students to develop smart business ideas to make London a cleaner and greener city.

In January, university students from across London came together to take part in Creative Hack, a two-day ‘hackathon’ run in collaboration with the London College of Fashion, Birkbeck, London South Bank University, Loughborough London University, University of East London, University College London and Washington University in St Lewis.

The hackathon is an opportunity for entrepreneurial students to network and build cross-institutional collaborations, whilst generating ideas that they may go on to submit in the annual Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition.

There’s no shortage of inspirational initiatives taking place in the capital: from harnessing the steps of passers-by to generate electricity to making swim shorts from plastic waste found in the Thames, entrepreneurs play a key role in making London a greener place to live and work.

The Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition aims to continue this tradition of innovation by supporting students in London to step up to the challenge of building a truly sustainable city, offering prizes for business ideas to make London cleaner and greener.

In Creative Hack, 17 teams of students and graduates across the different universities had two days to generate ideas to solve some of the biggest environmental challenges facing London today. Teams could choose from four main themes: Environment, Smart Cities, Creative Industries or Health.

Supported by experienced entrepreneurs and experts in design, pitching and team management, teams were guided through the ‘hacking’ process, from ideation through to pitching.

The two-day hackathon culminated with teams pitching their ideas to a panel of expert judges, with the winners decided through an audience vote. The winning team, Erive, pitched an innovative alternative to power charging stations, receiving £2,500 and dedicated application support for the Mayor’s Entrepreneur Competition in recognition of their innovative success.

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Student Pioneers perfect their pitching skills

Aspiring entrepreneurs from across Birkbeck joined the latest Pioneer event to learn about developing confidence and performance in business pitches. 

Birkbeck’s Pioneer programme continued with a hands-on, practical session on Saturday 9 February, focused on developing enterprise students’ confidence and performance when pitching.

The session marked the halfway point of the programme, funded by Santander Universities, taking hundreds of Birkbeck students on a journey to develop their business ideas and entrepreneurial skills.

To start the day, students were given a task to pitch their idea to as many different people as possible during the regular morning coffee networking.

When the main workshop kicked off, the energy in the room was inspiring as Henry Blanchard, Speaker and Facilitator as well as Founder of Uganda International Marathon, welcomed the group of over 100 students. The initial session had everyone replicate a human yo-yo with students on their feet and back down again more times than we can remember.

Actor Jamie Satterthwaite provided a brilliant twist to the content, sharing valuable presenting tips from someone who has shared the stage with a range of impressive names. There was also an interesting warm up taking place so that students could prep their faces, voices and knees ready for a great pitch.

The activity continued with the group splitting into three smaller teams and taken through a series of mini training workshops to work in their delivery, imagination and content when pitching their business ideas.

Hugo Metcalfe, freelance speaker, writer and coach, co-ran the session with Henry and led one of the workshops while Birkbeck’s Bal Hothi and Jenna Davies joined in the action to complete the mini workshop series.

If that wasn’t enough activity, movement and energy for the morning, students were treated to more coaching to end the session with plenty of tips and advice to conquer their pitches and hone their presentation skills.

The session’s topic was particularly timely with applications now open for the Santander Universities Entrepreneurship Awards, where students submit a two-minute video pitch about their business. It also coincides with the Pioneer competition, where students on the programme can put their skills into practice and enter their idea for the chance to pitch to a judging panel in June’s awards evening.

Pioneer continues next month and if you have any queries or would like to get in touch you can contact enterprise@bbk.ac.uk

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The future of management research

A recent workshop from Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research and publisher Wiley saw debate about the new directions that research in entrepreneurship and innovation could take, including the potential future role of Artificial Intelligence.

On Monday 29 October, Birkbeck’s Centre for Innovation Management Research (CIMR) hosted a research workshop in collaboration with Wiley, publishers of the Strategic Change: Briefings in Entrepreneurial Finance Journal. Professor Helen Lawton Smith and Professor Carlo Milana in the Department of Management are editors of the journal.

The aim of the workshop was to stimulate debate on new directions in research in entrepreneurship and innovation, in order to encourage new submissions, reach wider audiences, and highlight opportunities for more dynamic research contributions in the field. The workshop also provided an opportunity for current Management PhD students to discuss their research and progress with the audience, demonstrating the Centre’s diverse and unique research expertise.

Future Directions and Artificial Intelligence Research

Professor Carlo Milana opened the workshop with a discussion of the journal’s “business model” – a thematic approach whereby each issue deals with a particular topic, encouraging a variety of submissions that provide different perspectives on key issues in entrepreneurial finance, sustainable business models, and emerging economies, among other areas of innovation management and entrepreneurship. He also expressed his interest in contributions that will address important questions around the future development of artificial and social intelligence; for example, how will artificial intelligence (AI) engage and impact entrepreneurship? Professor Milana concluded his presentation with a list of practical issues with AI, such as technological unemployment, jobs displacement, security and privacy, and the reliability of automated systems.

Continuing with the theme of artificial intelligence in business and management, Professor Damir Tokic (International University of Monaco) joined the workshop via Skype to discuss his research on the implications of AI for executive decision-makers, asking whether AI can replace human discretion. The world’s largest investment management firm, BlackRock, recently announced the launch of the BlackRock Lab for Artificial Intelligence, suggesting that it intends to “keep tapping into artificial intelligence” to improve the financial wellbeing of its clients. Thus, Professor Tokic asks in his research: “Can AI replace the human discretion in investing?

The answer is yes, technically, because AI programmes can use econometric methods to extrapolate historical data and can interpret and use economic forecasts embedded in financial assets, ultimately ensuring market efficiency. However, legislation, unpredictable geopolitics, and the justice system might prevent the rise of “Robo decision-makers”, meaning that while machines can be fed with all possible human knowledge and available data, as long as human imperfections are preserved, AI-powered machines will not be able to replace human discretion.

Birkbeck PhD candidate Dina Mansour

Open Research, Transparency and Relevance

When we talk about research in the current academic environment, the topic of impact inevitably comes up. In his presentation, Chris Graf, Director of Research Integrity at Wiley, asked what it means for research to be “open”, saying that open science/access is a way of doing research that brings about new opportunities for publishers by: (1) driving forward new models of publishing to emphasise relevance, (2) creating new services for researchers to support their requirements through innovation, and (3) taking a thought leadership position through community engagement. He also discussed issues of reproducibility in research and publication bias, whereby reviewers and editors may be more inclined to accept manuscripts based on the direction of findings, potentially neglecting lesser known research and making some studies seem more significant than they are. His recommendation was to increase the transparency of the research process and products to improve research reproducibility.

Research on Gender and Entrepreneurship

Professor Colette Henry (Dundalk Institute of Technology) provided greater insight into the nature of research on gender and entrepreneurship, noting that in the entrepreneurship literature, “gender typically means ‘women’s entrepreneurship’”, and there is urgent need for new perspectives on the topic, such as: (re-)conceptualising the gender perspective in entrepreneurship, the influence of gender on the entrepreneurial ecosystem, leadership styles, and business model innovation.

She also shared data on women’s participation in entrepreneurship, highlighting that more women are engaged in ‘necessity entrepreneurship’ than opportunity-based entrepreneurship. This means that women across the world are more likely to become entrepreneurs due to gender-specific issues, such as childcare challenges and restrictive workplace policies; and in some cases, some women simply become entrepreneurs to meet basic economic survival needs as they have no other options.

A Publisher’s Perspective: Maximising Research Impact

After a full day of discussing future areas of research in entrepreneurship and innovation, it was only appropriate to end with the publisher’s perspective on how to maximise the reach and impact of publications. Shannon Canney, Senior Editor at Wiley, began by asking the audience which metrics mattered to them. For most people, the answer was citations, which was consistent with Wiley’s research findings: most people think citations are highly important, whereas some think downloads come next, and a smaller percentage believe social media sharing matters.

Joshua Tufts, Editor at Wiley, said that all these metrics matter for research impact, as they contribute to a comprehensive view of a paper’s performance. It is important for researchers to use various channels to publicise their research because search engine optimisation (SEO) is vital in a digital age, and between June 2016 and July 2017, 54% of visits to Wiley Online Library came from search engines (26% had no referrers, 18% came from other websites, and 1% came from social media). Academics and researchers can maximise their impact through SEO in 4 easy steps, including: usage of relevant key words/phrases throughout the article, choosing a smart, descriptive title which incorporates key phrases, writing a good abstract by expressing key points from the article in simple terms, and creating a network of inbound links and citations to one’s article.

Wiley provides a useful self-promotional author toolkit that researchers can utilise to help ensure their work is seen, read, and cited.

It was a very insightful event for researchers in entrepreneurship and innovation, and the organisers would like to give particular thanks to the sponsors, Wiley, and all speakers:

  • Shannon Canney, Senior Editor, Wiley
  • Chris Graf, Director, Research Integrity & Publishing Ethics, Wiley
  • Colette Henry, Adjunct Professor of Entrepreneurship, Dundalk Institute of Technology
  • Carlo Milana, Editor in Chief, Strategic Change: Briefings in Entrepreneurial Finance
  • Damir Tokic, Professor of Finance, International University of Monaco
  • Joshua Tufts, Editor, Wiley

Birkbeck PhD Students

  • Maryam GhorbankhaniExploitation of Public Sector R&D
  • Maximillian Giehrl – Open Innovation Collaborations in German Manufacturing Firms
  • Dina MansourEntrepreneurship and Economic Development in Developing Countries: The Case of Egypt
  • Peter RossTheories of Diffusion of Innovation and Medical Engagement: Successful Adoption and Assimilation of Healthcare Reform

Presentations from the workshop can be downloaded from the CIMR website.

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