Alongside piloting the new workshops, the University of Portsmouth is leading on the research element of the AWE programme and working with the University of Essex to discover more about the entrepreneurial ecosystem and how they can support women facing multiple challenges to start-up and grow their business.
The research part of AWE is investigating how efective the entrepreneurial ecosystem actually is for women who are facing additional barriers to starting and running a successful business. They have done this by conducting interviews with both the service providers who make up the ecosystem (stakeholders) and the women who are trying to access it.
What do we mean by entrepreneurial ecosystem?
In a business context, an ecosystem is simply a complex, dynamic network or interconnected system within a common environment. When we use the term with regards to our AWE research, what we’re looking at is the network of interrelated services and support available to startup businesses. This is made up of people and organisations, large and small, who provide things like finance, advice, and training. They are both formal and informal. It includes banks, local government, education providers, and business support organisations and informal support networks such as friends, family members, and other business people you meet through business networking and events.
What have we been doing?
The research part of AWE is investigating how effective the entrepreneurial ecosystem actually is for women who are facing additional barriers to starting and running a successful business. We’ve done this by conducting interviews with both the service providers who make up the ecosystem (stakeholders) and the women who are trying to access it. University of Portsmouth has been conducting the interviews in England, while University of Essex has been conducting them with French participants. We’ve been asking the stakeholders what services they provide and how they interact with women who may face additional barriers; we’ve asked the women about their experiences of trying to access services and where they prefer to turn to for support with their business and why.
The team at Portsmouth have now completed all the interviews for the English element of the research. We’ve conducted 80 interviews with a combination of women and stakeholders across Hampshire, Isle of Wight, Devon, and Cornwall. University of Essex have completed an additional 80 interviews with women and stakeholders Brittany and Normandy.
Earlier this year the teams from Portsmouth and Essex met in London to begin the process of analysing our data. We started trying to identify common themes from the interviews. Now that all the interviews have been transcribed, we are using a range of methods for analysis, combining traditional methods with the latest in AI-driven text analysis.
Why are we doing this?
The short answer is because the AWE programme doesn’t just want to help women overcome barriers, but also aims to change the system and actually remove some of the things that impede women’s success when starting a new enterprise. The aim is to improve the ecosystem by making recommendations for change and sharing good practices that work.
The research teams at Portsmouth and Essex are producing three reports by the end of 2020 that will hopefully influence policy makers to implement real changes to benefit entrepreneurial women, capturing the realities of entrepreneurial ecosystems, good practices and recommendations for change, and finally impacts of the AWE programme on stakeholders.
The AWE teams at Portsmouth and Essex would like to say a huge thank you to all the entrepreneurial women and stakeholders who gave up time to participate in interviews for the research. We look forward to being able to share the results of our findings with you soon.