Launching new collaborative research on Digital Entrepreneurship at Loughborough University
Digital technologies are increasingly being used for social innovation and entrepreneurship in which the focus is on solving pressing societal problems of our time. Reducing carbon footprint, increasing equity in the delivery of quality education and healthcare services and increasing gender equity are some of the challenges that are being tackled at scale by digital entrepreneurs from around the world.
We believe that digital entrepreneurship could be the new source of solutions for a more sustainable society. At the School of Business and Economics (SBE), we have an active research subset within the International Business, Strategy and Innovation discipline group that explores how digital entrepreneurship can help tackle ‘wicked’ problems in business and society.
As part of a small interdepartmental pilot of promoting digital entrepreneurship at Loughborough University, academic and research staff and students at the SBE and Department of Computer Science have joined hands in developing a template of faculty-facilitated, sustainability inspired and student-led digital entrepreneurship. The project is seed funded by the SBE chapter of UKPRME.
The project was launched earlier this year on 13 March at an event in which students of both SBE and Computer Science participated. Using United Nations Sustainable Development Goals as a search canvass, the students came up with specific ideas for scalable enterprises towards 17 goals for a sustainable society: Affordable and Clean Energy, No Poverty, Good Health and Well-Being, Quality Education, Reduced Inequality are some of the goals which guided the students’ search for start-up ideas.
As they say, simple inventions can contribute tremendously to the society, and the youth has to take up this initiative of making a sustainable future. Thanks to the media, today’s generation know a lot about the happenings of this untenable world. They are more aware about the society and environment, so why not to utilize their knowledge and awareness into something that can benefit society?
Dr Rahul Kumar, Lecturer in Entrepreneurship and Innovation and a co-organizer for the project, was of the view that we can design entrepreneurial opportunities as part of several courses that simulate real-world problem solving.
Many students in the SBE were already working on business-related problems in strategy, marketing, finance and logistics, whereas students in Computer Science were focused on apps development. Together they had a complete skill-set for envisioning and starting up digital ventures.
Dr Manfred Kufleitner, Lecturer in Computer Science and also co-organizer of this event, was equally enthusiastic about the prospects. In his view this provided an opportunity to increase students’ engagement and interests in classroom learning. His presentation on “post card matrix game,” which was meant to help the business students to appreciate distinctive expertise that computer science students would bring to the start-up team, was very well received.
Dr Kathryn Walsh, Director of Enterprise Office at Loughborough University, spoke about the support available within the Schools and the University (such as The Start-up Lab, The Hub, Science and Enterprise Park) to help students build successful projects.
The students came up with several ideas for mobile applications that can potentially be developed as new products and services, including ideas for gamifying recycling, promoting hygiene among pregnant women in rural areas and promoting new platforms for geo-limited retailing to avoid long-distance transportation (and to reduce carbon footprint of online purchases). All of these with a simple app!
Students will work on their ideas and will compete for a prize to be announced at the end of this pilot. Needless to say- we will keep you posted about it!
This Blog post was written by Nikshubha Sharma, MBA student at Loughborough University. You can contact either Dr Rahul Kumar or Dr Manfred Kufleitner if you would like to discuss this event or digital entrepreneurship in more detail.