Entrepreneurship and Innovation


On 15 June over 60 people, many of them entrepreneurs visited Aston Business School for a Leading Thinkers, Leading Visions event focussed on Entrepreneurship and Innovation and how they contribute to growth, particularly high growth. The event featured presentations from Dr David Hardman, Chief Executive Officer of Birmingham Science Park Aston, Dr Robert Crawford, Director of Innovation, Investment and Growth from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA) and Dr Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada, a leading researcher on entrepreneurship at Aston Business School

Dr Hardman began by introducing Birmingham Science Park Aston (BSPA), the third oldest Science Park in the UK.  He pointed out the BSPA is different to most Science Parks in the UK in that it is wholly owned by the City Council, and as such has a strong focus on the regeneration agenda. 

Speakers at Entrepreneurship and Innovation event
Dr Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada, Dr Robert Crawford, Professor John Edwards, Dr David Hardman
Dr David Hardman

Dr Hardman described some of the initiatives of BSPA including the new Entrepreneurs for the Future Centre aimed at supporting companies to grow to employ 10-50 people.  In Dr Hardman’s opinion there should be more of an emphasis on finding and supporting entrepreneurs to substantially grow their businesses.

Dr Hardman concluded by introducing the Science Park Without Walls concept, which he hopes will move BSPA from being geographically based to community driven, from local innovation to borderless innovation and from technology driven to technology enabled.

Dr Robert Crawford’s presentation looked at public support programmes for entrepreneurship and innovation, focussing particularly on which ones work and why.  Dr Crawford pointed out that not all public support programmes work, and that it is often difficult to predict why some work and others don’t.  He argued that entrepreneurship and innovation are not simple concepts which can easily be modelled and that lots of factors in any particular situation can influence the success or failure of a support programme. 

Dr Crawford suggested that the UK is not good at growing scalable businesses when compared to the US.  He pointed to the link between skills development and innovation, arguing that the UK record in this area is poor as government policy around this agenda changes too rapidly. 

Dr Robert Crawford

Dr Crawford believes that good innovations are those which link people together through networks, and which allow entrepreneurs access to risk capital. He also believes that not all innovation is good, drawing on the example of the banking industry and the innovation of financial products that played a part in the financial crisis.

Dr Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada
Finally Dr Jagannadha Pawan Tamvada talked about entrepreneurial teams. He highlighted that 30% of start-ups are initiated by teams, and that there is evidence that those firms outperform firms started by solo entrepreneurs.   Dr Tamvada’s research asks does team size influence firm performance.  Based on data from 5,000 start-ups Dr Tamvada has been able to conclude that three appears to be the optimum number of individuals within a team to achieve the highest growth rate.

Dr Tamvada presented data which backed up his theory that there is an inverted ‘U’ shape relationship between performance and team size within entrepreneurial firms. 

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