Leeds Conference Brings International Entrepreneurship Education Researchers Together

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Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies

Dr Richard Tunstall is Enterprise and Innovation Discovery Theme Leader, University Student Education Fellow, and Lecturer in Enterprise.

Delegates at the 3E conference in the Maurice Keyworth building.

The Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies (CEES) hosted the fourth European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ECSB) Education conference - 3E - at the University of Leeds in May.

The CEES supports research into enterprise education, entrepreneurship and enterprise development. With over 14 academics across Leeds University Business School, the University of Leeds has one of the largest groups of entrepreneurship and enterprise faculty and researchers in the UK. Members of the CEES worked with the ECSB to organise and host the conference.

An impressive 120 participants from across Europe, the US, Russia and Asia attended over the three days. With an emphasis on advancing research and innovative practice in entrepreneurship education, the event followed the previous conferences in Denmark, Germany and Finland by adopting a uniquely innovative format, with PowerPoint-free (unplugged) sessions. The conference focused on problems and questions rather than on ready-made solutions and presentations of research findings. This format provided opportunities for discussion, debate and dissemination of the latest developments in entrepreneurship education research.

During the sessions, participants engaged with cutting edge issues in entrepreneurship education and entrepreneurial learning including: embedding enterprise and innovation into non-Business curriculums, developing innovative cross-cutting pedagogy design, entrepreneurial development through education and entrepreneurial education ecosystems.

Delegates included researchers in entrepreneurship, education studies, finance and regional policy as well as university educators, startup incubators, regional development associations and venture capital firms.

The conference was launched by Dr Raphael Hallett, Director of the new Leeds Institute for Teaching Excellence and Innovation. Dr Hallett noted the key link between the new Institute and the conference, as an example of the University’s commitment to developing and supporting world-class innovative teaching excellence and advanced pedagogy scholarship and research.

One of the highlights of the conference was a debate on turning teaching innovations into high quality publications. Panel members for the debate included Professor Robert Blackburn (ECSB President, Editor of the International Small Business Journal and Research Excellence Framework panel member); Professor Siri Tjeresen (Associate Editor of the top 4* ranked journal, Academy of Management Learning and Education), Professor Helle Neergaard (Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds and Professor of Entrepreneurship at Aarhus University) and Professor Andy Penaluna (Visiting Professor at the University of Leeds, Entrepreneurship Education policy advisor to the European Commission and United Nations). 

The debate provided insights into the positioning of entrepreneurship education research in leading academic journals as well as highlighting new and emerging research field opportunities for impact. This proved to be an engaging and inspirational session for scholars wishing to take their research forward.

The conference reflected the innovative teaching and research being conducted at the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies and provided the opportunity to celebrate the CEES’ role in the University’s success through winning four national entrepreneurship awards in 2015/2016 along with the University’s Spark business mentoring service and InTechnology Incubator programme.

The conference was also an excellent opportunity for CEES members to build on existing networks and develop new collaborative opportunities for international research projects. The CEES team is currently developing funding bids around experiential entrepreneurship education and ecosystems (with Aarhus University, Denmark and Chalmers, Sweden), developing research on gender and entrepreneurship (with Aarhus, Denmark), as well as numerous other opportunities with partners in the US and elsewhere in Europe.

Overall, the 3E conference was a fantastic way to bring leading international entrepreneurship education researchers together in Leeds, to not only celebrate the various successes Leeds has had, but also to build on these with future collaborations.

You can view a short video clip of highlights from the conference online.

Further information about the European Council of Small Business may be found here.

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The views expressed in this article are those of the author and may not reflect the views of Leeds University business school or the University of Leeds.