Kogod School of Business, American University and Birkbeck School of Business, Economics and Informatics – the collaboration develops

In April it is cherry blossom time in Washington DC – a perfect time to visit and strengthen links between the two business schools.  It was a busy week.

On Monday April 1st, Professor Helen Lawton Smith, Director of the Birkbeck Centre for Innovation Management Research (CIMR) presented at the 2nd International Business Networking luncheon at the Kogod School. Her brief was to update the audience of alumni, friends and business partners on the progress of the collaboration and to share her personal reflections about Brexit and its impact on universities.

In the year since Helen visited the Kogod School rapid progress has been made in research and teaching collaborations.

First a series of research projects are in progress and in planning stages on business accelerators. Both Kogod (Professors Tomasz Mroczkowski, and David Bartlett) and CIMR with support of a BEI School research grant) (Dr Muthu De Silva, Professor Helen Lawton Smith and Filipe Martins) are researching into Fintech start-ups. Filipe Martin’s PhD thesis is on corporate accelerators and a joint submission to ESRC/NSF is being developed on fintech ecosystems.  Filipe visited the Kogod School in March 2019 to discuss his own and the Fintech research. He is due to return in May 2019.

Second, in April 2019, the Department of Management will be introducing a new module on Blockchain Technology and Its Impact on Organisations. This has been developed with Professor Ayman Omar, Kogod, and will be led by Professor Klaus Nielsen and taught by locally Saverio Romeo. Professor Omar will join the class by Skype.

Tomasz Mroczkowski has joined CIMR as a Visiting Fellow and has visited Birkbeck twice. He and Emanuel Adam (Executive Director London Director of Policy & Trade, British American Business) were discussants at a CIMR PhD event in January 2019.

Helen’s personal view was that Brexit is a nightmare for UK universities and their place in the world rankings: she hopes to wake up one day and find that it has all been a bad dream. She voted to remain and is one of the 6 million who signed the petition to revoke article 50. She lives in a parliamentary constituency where 70% voted to remain and where the BMW Mini plant is under threat because of Brexit.

Birkbeck has already faced a reduction in income from EU research programmes, has seen a decline in recruitment of non-UK EU students and will be affected by student exchanges under Erasmus programmes if Brexit goes ahead. One sixth of Birkbeck’s staff including 118 academics, are non-UK EU citizens many of whom currently have an uncertain future in the UK. The UK is very unlikely to find the funds to sustain research at the current level, although it is highly likely to say or imply that it will.

For her personally, her research career has been hugely enhanced by being involved in EU projects since the 1990s. The most recent is as Principal Investigator on the Transforming Institutions by Gendering Contents and gaining Equality in Research (TRIGGER) project 2014-2017, worth £350,000 to Birkbeck. She has gained long- term collaborators in research and publications, been appointed as visiting professor in two European universities, and has made very good friends.

The good news is that Brexit will not affect the collaboration with the Kogod School.

On Tuesday, Tomasz and Helen attended the National Cherry Blossom Festival hosted by the Japanese organisation, Sasakawa USA on Racing to the Future: U.S.- Japan technology Trends and Leadership in Self-driving vehicles.  They signed up two of the speakers to help with their research and had their photograph taken with a robot – which gave the first presentation.

On Thursday, Kogod School Dean, Professor John Delaney and Helen formally exchanged the Memorandum of Understanding between the two Business Schools.

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