Belfast Telegraph

Sunday 21 December 2014

The next wave of entrepreneurs

The conference at the Northern Ireland Science Park focused on knowledge economy
The conference at the Northern Ireland Science Park focused on knowledge economy

Occasionally, in the search for business initiatives, someone does something that is refreshingly adventurous.

Just 11 days ago, the building that celebrates ship building technology, the Pump House beside the dock where Titanic was built, hosted a very modern brainstorming session.

Over 200 people, many of them ambitious youngish business entrepreneurs, put their collective efforts and minds into asking and answering the question "what is it going to take to create a stream of unstoppable [business] start-ups?"

This audience was different. Conventional wisdom was crowded-out by unconventional ideas. Read the details on www.nisp.co.uk/?p=1913

As could be expected, the ideas were wide ranging and, in some cases, contradictory. The common purpose of a revitalised business sector was shared.

The drive for the unconference came from the Connect programme based at the Northern Ireland Science Park (NISP).

Setting the scene, Steve Orr from NISP Connect, laid out the challenges. "What is holding us back?" was the introduction. He quoted from the conclusions of the report by Oxford Economics on the scale of the benefits if Northern Ireland developed a modern knowledge economy.

To accelerate the arrival of a knowledge economy, high on Steve Orr's priorities was a plea that we should put the search for, and development of, entrepreneurs in the lead. Going further, this should be stiffened by giving the expansion of indigenous businesses priority status, possibly even ahead of foreign direct investment.

One of the memorable moments was when the organisers underscored the merits of the day as an 'ideaFest' - it was not a moanfest, nor was it a whinge session.

The list of ideas was impressive. They were captured by skilled, articulate mentors who examined suggestions on the availability and use of funding, the generation of a community with enhanced skills, the value of inter-business co-operation, the development of better market access and sales, and drawing on academic collaboration.

Nothing new in those themes. What was new was the building of a fresh approach to debate. We must teach, or nurture, a larger generation of entrepreneurs. The cultural entrepreneurial void, or failure, of the past must give way to a new shared culture, less averse to risk and more adventurous.

COMMENT RULES: Comments that are judged to be defamatory, abusive or in bad taste are not acceptable and contributors who consistently fall below certain criteria will be permanently blacklisted. The moderator will not enter into debate with individual contributors and the moderator’s decision is final. It is Belfast Telegraph policy to close comments on court cases, tribunals and active legal investigations. We may also close comments on articles which are being targeted for abuse. Problems with commenting? customercare@belfasttelegraph.co.uk

Comment

More

Company Profiles

More

Help & Advice

More

People on the move

More