The Entrepreneurship Ecosystem Research Network Ltd (EERN) held the inaugural event of its Event Series at the University of Strathclyde Business School on December 5, 2016. Entrepreneurs as well as experts from academia, industry, public bodies, such as Entrepreneurial Scotland, Scottish Enterprise, and the Scottish Institute for Enterprise, gathered together to discussed the latest insights from research and what lessons can be learnt from working in different ecosystems.
Bernd Wurth, co-founder and managing director of EERN, welcomed participants and led through the program of this half day event, including an introduction to EEERN’s mission and ongoing activities. The event featured keynote talks from Dr Ben Spigel (University of Edinburgh) and Bruce Walker (WeAreTheFuture, FutureX).
Ben focused on ecosystem shapers and social capital, contrasting the ecosystems in Edinburgh and Glasgow in particular. The recent success of Edinburgh can be attributed to strong research universities, entrepreneurs with a “give back” mentality, thick social networks, and a high quality of life in general. In Glasgow, cultural norms favour working on developing businesses as opposed to engaging with other entrepreneurs and ecosystem shapers. The example of Edinburgh shows, and this should give hope to many other regions and cities around the world, that culture can be changed over the span of several years, not decades.
Bruce shared his views from visiting and experiencing ecosystems of different maturity and viability around the world and the common themes that emerged for him. The keynotes sparked several in-depth discussions, engaging each participant in the conversation around entrepreneurial ecosystems in Scotland and beyond.
Serdal Temel, Head of the Department of Innovation and Entrepreneurship and EBILTEM Technology Transfer Office at Ege University in Izmir (Turkey), who is also the Chair of the EERN Regional Chapter Middle East, shared his experiences from Izmir. Limiting factors there are a lack of ambition in the Izmir area and the reluctance of established companies to become active (even though there are tax incentives introduced for example).
The key outcomes of this event were related to “enterprise for all”, i.e. start early and give all students and enterprising (not necessarily entrepreneurial) mind-set; create trust and a “paying forward” culture, e.g. by creating cohorts or let young people view problems as a collaborative endeavour that needs support from others and that they are allowed to ask; and force entrepreneurs and start-ups out of their comfort zone by challenging them through the process.
Whilst the event was modest in size, the quality of the discussions was world class. The kick-off of the Event Series demonstrated the mission and work of EERN; create interactive settings that maximise audience participation, asking challenging questions and collaboratively developing new approaches. EEEN aims to leverage the knowledge and insights of the valuable and diverse audience to foster the development of knowledge on ecosystems and its application.