What about the regions? Improving policy for disabled innovative entrepreneurs

Helen Lawton Smith

Increasing attention in policy agenda and practice to equality, diversity and inclusion has brought together in new ways different parts of the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosystem, one which is becoming increasingly inclusive. In practice policy-makers, practitioners and academics are joining forces to investigate the challenges in developing and delivering effective policy that is sensitive to the needs of minority entrepreneurs. This includes a recognition of how their needs are affected by where they live.

Two members of CIMR, Jacqueline Winstanley (Visiting Fellow) and Helen Lawton Smith (CIMR Director) are respectively the project lead and the academic lead on a new research project sponsored by Innovate UK:  the Road to Wonder Enquiry. This is a collaboration between the APPGIE, the Innovation Caucus, CIMR Birkbeck and Universal Inclusion, it will provide rigorous academic findings on the current position relating to enterprise created by disabled people within the UK’s entrepreneurial ecosysystem.

This new study builds on earlier research, and in particular on the findings of two studies. These are an Innovate UK project undertaken in 2019 by the Innovation Caucus which focused on Supporting Diversity and Inclusion in Innovation and Lawton Smith’s subsequent study funded by the Regional Studies Association. That study addressed regional inequalities in innovation opportunities disabled and ethnic minority entrepreneurs. It found that regional contexts have a profound impact on the ability of local networks to deliver support for disabled entrepreneurs.

Innovate UK has taken on board the importance of the regional dimension to policy delivery. This is reflected in the strong regional focus of the project survey and the questionnaire. This is in order to provide more data and insights which will in turn inform policy thinking.

Links to previous studies can be found here.

InnovateUK_Supporting_Diversity_and_Inclusion_in_innovation_WEBVERSION.pdf (publishing.service.gov.uk)