Entrepreneurship and Innovation

The Entrepreneurship & Innovation research team of 7 members of staff is led by Professor Mark Hart and engages with theoretical frameworks in economics and management concerning the innovative and entrepreneurial behaviour of firms and individuals. It includes work on the economics of innovation (international knowledge sourcing; intellectual property (IP) activity of multinationals in the UK; trademarking activity; human capital concentrations; innovation and competitiveness), which concentrates on the processes which determine effective innovation and its links to firm performance and higher productivity growth.  The work by Professor Mark Rogers and Dr Vania Sena on the intellectual property system funded by the UKIPO has influenced the reform of the IP regime in the UK.

Mark Hart, Professor of Entrepreneurship and Small Business discusses Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Aston Business School

These topics also inform the work on business demography which seeks to understand the dynamics and determinants of start-up, survival and growth in the UK using the recently created longitudinal firm-level database for the period 1997-2009.  Mark Hart was the principal author of the recent NESTA report on ‘Measuring Business Growth: High-Growth Firms and their contribution to employment in the UK’ which set out for the first time the scale and impact of High-Growth Firms (HGFs) in the UK economy.  Recently commissioned projects in the Group by UKTI and UKCES are designed to develop a clearer understanding of the factors associated with these HGFs and the role of trade development, inward investment and skills are being investigated by these new projects.  This ongoing work on HGFs has informed the emerging UK policy on ‘Growth Hubs’ and the team are working closely with the sponsoring government department (BIS).

A final strand of work on the firm concerns the development and use of evaluation frameworks using data-linking techniques to assess the economic impact of government business support in the UK.  This has led to the award of an ESRC CASE studentship in 2011 to develop this work with the Department for Business Innovations and Skills (BIS).  This will enhance the existing evaluation work in the Group which has already resulted in major evaluation studies for BIS and UKTI . 

The Economics & Strategy Group is also part of the Global Entrepreneurship Monitor (GEM) consortium and currently runs the GEM UK annual household survey, which measures the entrepreneurial activity of working aged adults. GEM related research focuses on measuring and explaining differences in entrepreneurial attitudes, activity and aspiration between countries, as well as identifying appropriate policies to enhance entrepreneurial activity.

There are a number of themes which will inform future work:

  1. Entrepreneurship: there are programmes of work on corporate venturing (intrapreneurship), entrepreneurial behaviour of young adults, entrepreneurship and religion, gender and the role of place and space in the entrepreneurial process.
  2. Innovation: there is ongoing and emerging work on IP funded by Leverhulme and UKTI as well as on the innovative behaviour of Chinese firms as well as further work on international knowledge sourcing which will build on the work funded by NESTA and the OECD.
  3. Firm Growth: development of our work on understanding the drivers and economic impact of firm start-up, survival and growth with the participation in international collaborative projects. 
  4. Policy Evaluation: funded by the ESRC in partnership with BIS the expertise of the group in developing and analysing firm-level panel datasets will be harnessed to provide a framework for policy evaluation of SME business improvement initiatives.