CIMR academic Muthu de Silva promoted to Professor

To celebrate Muthu’s achievement, we have invited her to share with us some reflections on her research interests, research impact, and future plans.

Congratulations on your Professorship, Muthu! Could you please tell us a bit about your research interests and your key contributions to knowledge and practice?

My core contribution to knowledge is in the area of Co-creation. By bridging the theories of Entrepreneurship and Co-creation to enhance our knowledge of how to capitalise on entrepreneurialism for successful co-creation, I have made significant original contributions to the literature and published them in top journals such as Research Policy, British Journal of Management, and Journal of Organizational Behaviour etc. I was the first to introduce the concept of Entrepreneurial Co-creation (De Silva and Wright 2019) and I have further developed it by studying how different types of entrepreneurs—ranging from start-up, academic, corporate, public, and civil entrepreneurs—co-create to simultaneously generate business and social value. My publications have particularly furthered knowledge of the dynamic capabilities, opportunities, relational capabilities, knowledge management strategies, and outcomes of co-creation. My work has contributed to enhancing our knowledge on different facets of co-creation namely, the concept of co-creation; University-industry co-creation; Involvement of intermediaries in co-creation; Involvement of businesses in co-creation and Co-creation in social enterprises.

I have secured major grants from Innovate UK, Intellectual Property Office, EU and British Academy/Leverhulme, OECD, and British Academy of Management. She is a fellow of Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

I am in the Editorial Board of the British Journal of Management.

What do you see as the main impacts of your work outside academia?

Since I often co-create my research with national and international academic, policy, and practitioner communities, my work has always generated business and social value. The recommendations offered by my research—particularly on how to co-create value entrepreneurially—have influenced UK government initiatives and have resulted in the revision of the Lambert Tool-kit used by universities in relation to intellectual property rights when engaging in Third Mission Activities. In 2019, the Indian authorities sought my advice in adapting this revised toolkit in India.

My work has international impact.  This is evidenced by the invitation from the Head of the Secretariat for the Working Party of Innovation and Technology Policy, OECD for me to work as a Lead Consultant to (A) develop the conceptual framework on Science-Industry Co-creation, which provided the foundations of the OECD’s Working Party of Innovation and Technology Policy 2021-23 project, and (B) lead two of their new projects on co-creation during Covid-19 and international university-business co-creation, leading to two OECD policy reports and several speaker engagements to influence the innovation strategies of innovation agencies/ministries of 37 OECD countries.

My expertise is capitalised on by key national and international bodies. These include an invitation to be on the Expert Research Advisory Board of the UK Intellectual Property Office (IPO) in which capacity I advise the IPO on the use of evidence-based research in policy design. I am an external Peer Review Group (PRG) Member of the Department of Business Energy and Industrial Strategy, UK, where I offer comprehensive reviews to ensure the robustness of government-published reports. Additionally, I am also an Economics and Business evaluation panellist of the Fundação para a Ciência e a Tecnologia, I.P. (FCT), the Portuguese public funding agency for R&D, which selects proposals to be granted government funding.

What are your main teaching achievements?

My proudest teaching contribution has been helping students to develop their entrepreneurial ventures and mentoring PhD students. At Birkbeck, I have introduced four modules on Entrepreneurship, which are extremely highly rated by students. The recently awarded Small Business Charter (SBC) accreditation is a real testimony to the years of effort that that I (in collaboration with my colleagues) have made to enhancing “Entrepreneurship Education” at Birkbeck. The assessor’s comment in the awarding letter states, “the value Birkbeck adds to their student business owners and the impact on their businesses is an order of magnitude higher than the assessors have seen elsewhere”

What leadership roles have you taken on?

I have held several formal leadership and management responsibilities in both teaching and research. I amthe Assistant Dean (Research) BEI. Until March 2022, I held leadership positions as the Director of Research, and Deputy Assistant Dean of the Department of Managements, the Chair of Business and Management SDG and BSc Business Programme Director. In my leadership roles, I have made a significant contribution to improving Research Culture, Teaching quality and Operations, promoting the international standing of the College.

What are your plans for the future?

I believe that being promoted to Professor will provide me with the strength, acceptance, and credibility required to scale-up my leadership and service—both to Birkbeck and our stakeholders—in the research stream of Entrepreneurial Co-creation and the teaching stream of Entrepreneurial Education. I am keen to further strengthen Birkbeck’s standing as a research-led university that generates academic, business, and social value. I am also interested in scaling-up my international engagement to extend my service to the world.

Thank you very much Muthu for sharing your expertise and plans with us!

Muthu de Silva in conversation with Federica Rossi