Spaces that create sustainable entrepreneurs

Spaces that create sustainable entrepreneurs

Entrepreneurship is increasingly being emphasised as an important means for bringing about a major change in the way natural resources are consumed and society is preserved on a global scale.

Sustainable entrepreneurship has recently emerged as a sub field of the research and practice of entrepreneurship. This puts entrepreneurial contributions to the improvement of environmental and social wellbeing in front of a focus on income generation, and views market-based income only as a conduit to realise these ends.

Professor Kiran Trehan, Professor of Leadership and Enterprise Development, and Dr Vivek Soundararajan, Research Fellow in Management, both at the University of Birmingham Business School, are leading a project with the Impact Hub Birmingham looking at what kind of spaces are needed for creating sustainable entrepreneurs.

To facilitate the discovery and development of opportunities for sustainable entrepreneurs, impact-oriented knowledge hubs have recently emerged in major cities worldwide. These hubs are nurturing spaces for sustainable entrepreneurs with high internal and external networking and knowledge sharing capabilities. The hubs act as innovation labs, business incubators and community centres, and offer a unique ecosystem of resources, inspiration and collaboration opportunities. However, there has been very little academic research into their contribution to sustainable entrepreneurship. The University of Birmingham project is pioneering a better understanding of how important impact hubs are to the communities, individuals and partners they work with.

Daniel Zastawny, Co-Founder and Director of Entrepreneurship at the Impact Hub Birmingham says "This project is important in the ongoing development of not only the Birmingham Impact Hub, but impact hubs worldwide. Through our global network, this project will have a definite influence on practice and policy in many more places than just Birmingham".

The University of Birmingham project has been funded by a grant obtained from the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship and supported by the leadership team at the Impact Hub in Birmingham. The project will explore the case of the Birmingham hub to understand how impact hubs create opportunities for sustainable entrepreneurship and how entrepreneurs make use of such opportunities.

This knowledge will be actionable as well as academically rigorous and will offer evidence-based guidelines for better design and effective implementation of impact-oriented knowledge hubs. The evidence and conclusions gathered through the research will give businesses, policy-makers and academia a clearer picture of how impact hubs can have a positive and sustainable influence.

If you are interested in finding out more about social sciences research or if your business is looking to partner with a University to explore opportunities for collaboration and growth, please contact: Andy Newnham, Business Engagement Partner, University of Birmingham, 07964 911 458, a.newnham@bham.ac.uk