Entrepreneurship and innovation research
Nottingham University Business School has a long-standing tradition of impactful research in entrepreneurship and innovation, winning the first ever Times Higher Entrepreneurial University of the Year award and in being the top rated UK University for creating social enterprises (HESA 2020).
Our entrepreneurship research informs and evaluates award winning programmes and competitions to develop new ventures in marginalised groups such as women entrepreneurs, entrepreneurs with disabilities and refugee entrepreneurs. Research approaches include the creative use of digital technologies, big data and AI complemented by in depth ethnographic studies within disadvantaged communities.
Our innovation research draws together scholars from all Nottingham University Business School research centres to help organisations address pervasive societal challenges such as inequality, health and climate change. Research projects are co-created with small businesses, public, third sector and corporates working together to develop entrepreneurial capabilities to address the Sustainable Development Goals at a local, national and international level.
The Ingenuity Programme
Underpinned by findings generated from research carried out at the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship, (HGI) the Ingenuity Programme was established in 2016. This encouraged student entrepreneurship from across the university - offering prizes and support from leading companies (such as Google and Experian) as well as volunteer speakers and mentors from third sector organisations such as the Big Issue and UnLtd.
The Programme encouraged students from outside the Business School to take part, and also encouraged participants to consider the UN’s sustainable development goals as part of their business development.
Over the subsequent years, the programme continued to develop its offer - informed by HGI research - to encourage participation by a wide range of people. In 2019, two summits were introduced asking participants to look at challenges facing society. The first considered the future of communities, while the second looked at how technology can be harnessed for social good. An engineering student, Tabitha Wacera won a prize of £18,500 to enable her enterprise - Sustainable Water – to provide more clean water in the developing world. In 2020, the Ingenuity Programme expanded to become a national programme, working with experts from business, university, charitable organisations and the wider community to create impact through enterprise.
Young Entrepreneurs Scheme
Now in its 25th year, the Young Entrepreneurs Scheme (YES) is an innovative global competition developed to raise awareness among postgraduate students and postdoctoral researchers of how ideas from science and engineering can be commercialised. YES is organised in partnership with the Haydn Green Institute for Innovation and Entrepreneurship (HGI), Association of Science Technology and Innovation (ASTI), the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), GlaxoSmithKline plc (GSK), Stevenage Bioscience Catalyst (SBC) and Syngenta.
In 2013, research carried out by Nottingham academics was used to inform the growth plan for competition. This included an international study to identify the competencies needed to support academic entrepreneurship, the development on an integrated learning model, and an investigation in to how encourage cross-disciplinary working. In recent years, YES themes have included Protect our Planet (2018) and Science and Engineering Empowering Sustainability (2019).
The Ingenuity Lab
The Haydn Green Institute also hosts the Ingenuity Lab – supporting fledgling student and graduate start-up enterprises through a programme of events, workshops, guidance from experienced entrepreneurs in residence and an internship scheme. In 2019, the combined turnover of enterprises based at the Lab was over £80 million and has supported a wide range of ventures, including Hungry Panda, Teen-Behaviour.com and Proodle Solutions.
My Way Project
The My Way team - HGI’s Dr Isobel O’Neil along with local entrepreneurs Alexandra Hardwick and Debbie Clarke - launched a My Business My Way toolkit in January 2019. This is a free-to-access interactive PDF to support the personal development of women who run their own businesses.In April 2019, the team won the Smallwood Trust innovation prize at Ingenuity19. This led to the development and delivery of a toolkit and workshop programme for lower income women exploring self-employment. During the Covid-19 pandemic, the team delivered two My Way Challenges - one via a Facebook group and the other in partnership with Walgreens Boots Alliance’s women in business group.
To enable this work to continue, the team has now established an Ingenuity Lab-based social enterprise – The My Way Project CIC. Isobel is working closely with local entrepreneurs to collect data on how the toolkit is being used and how their businesses are affected.