EEUK Event at Greenwich (Part 3)

The final session of the day was given by Jerry Allen who is Deputy Director of Enterprise at Greenwich University. He addressed the subject of ‘the future of social enterprise in a post-Brexit world’.
He began with an amusing anecdote of a twitter comment asking if anybody could explain what our plan is if we leave. The writer states:
We have all been on a night out with that mate who when you are in a club says “It’s shit here. Let’s go somewhere else.” Then, when you leave, you realise that he has no idea where to go and the place you left won’t let you back in. Without a decent follow-up plan, a leave vote could see the UK standing in a kebab shop arguing about whose fault it is.
Jerry started by identifying key trends in the impact of geopolitical changes. He listed three key points: nationalistic xenophobia, heartfelt pride in yesteryear and localism trumping (he apologised for the pun) globalism. He pointed to a divided society and an uncertain future with left behind communities (low skilled, poverty stricken and lacking in opportunities). He quoted a 2016 Joseph Rowntree Foundation report on monitoring poverty and social exclusion that makes depressing reading.
He then turned his attention to social entrepreneurs and their role as creative disruptors. He sees a role for the universities as disruptive social innovators and referred to Bessant and Tidd (2015) and their work on the role of universities. Jerry believes the university response should be through education, economic activity and enterprise and policy. It not possible to expand on this here but many writers are questioning the role of universities in terms of their ability to innovate. See Blass and Hayward (2014) who question in the title of their article (full pdf in link) what the role will be for universities re innovation in 2025. The five scenarios they present are well worth reading.
Towards the end of his talk, Jerry gave some predictions and recommendations which might be useful. His four predictions were:
• There will be new ‘uncharted’ social opportunities in a divisive ‘un-inclusive society’
• Anticipated trade/jobs will disappoint creating social discontent
• There will be a greater role for universities post-Brexit
• Transnational social enterprises face a backlash of nationalism.
His recommendations can be summarised as:
• Build the narrative, exploit the media
• Fuel the fire and become disruptive social innovators
• He advises ‘newbies’ to pick their cause – localism trumps globalism
• Be agile.
So, in short, the message seems to be that universities can either be passive and responsive or active and lead the agenda. The apocryphal Chinese curse of living in interesting times seems to apply here.
Dr Mike Calvert

Leave a comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *