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International Conference Breaks Down ‘Borders’ Affecting Global Entrepreneurs

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International Conference Breaks Down ‘Borders’ Affecting Global Entrepreneurs

International Conference Breaks Down ‘Borders’ Affecting Global Entrepreneurs
October 23
17:01 2017

Celebrating its 40th anniversary, the internationally renowned, Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Conference, comes to Belfast, Northern Ireland, from 8th–9th November 2017. The ISBE Conference has become one of the major events in the entrepreneurial calendar; bringing together over 400 highly-acclaimed academics, speakers and business leaders from over 40 countries, to inform, engage and debate the issues relating to small business.

Headline sponsors for the international conference are Ulster University Business School (UUBS), Belfast City Council and the Federation for Small Business. Tony Wall, ISBE Conference Chair and Senior Lecturer for Ulster University Business School comments on the UUSB’s partnership with ISBE: “Ulster University Business School is proud to be a part of such a significant event in Belfast not only as a sponsor, but as a provider of some of the leading researchers, professors and academics in business. I look forward to participating in a wide selection of presentations and sessions that will engage and enlighten delegates to facilitate their business’ prosperity.”

This year’s conference theme ‘Borders’, prosperity and entrepreneurial responses,’ while influenced by the advent of Brexit and its possible impact on small businesses and entrepreneurial endeavour also recognises that ‘bordered thinking’ can exist more widely in entrepreneurship research and practice.

Pauric McGowan, ISBE President and Professor of Entrepreneurship and Business Development at Ulster University Business School, in commenting on the theme for this year’s event, says: “Brexit is only one example of ‘bordered thinking’ in business practice in these times. Consider, for example, attitudes towards, and support for, those within minority communities in the UK who are keen to engage in entrepreneurial business venturing, or the efforts of women, striving to level the playing field in their business venturing efforts. ‘Bordered thinking’ exists, it seems more widely than perhaps we realise or even perhaps, want to acknowledge, with implications for policy and practice.

“With respect to Brexit, as it becomes a reality, are we likely to see borders lowered or raised and ‘bordered thinking’ become the new norm again?” He concludes: “We’ll have the opportunity to explore some of the answers around such thinking at the Belfast conference.”

The two-day event hosts 250 presentations, stimulating panel debates and specialist workshops, delivered by a strong calibre of researchers and specialists in entrepreneurship and small business practice over a diverse range of topics. Distinguished keynote speakers at the opening plenary session on Wednesday, November 8th include Professor Neil Gibson, Chief Economist at EY (Ireland) and Professor Barbara Orser, Deloitte Professor in the Management of Growth Enterprises at the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa (Canada).

Professor Gibson is a former Professor of Economic Policy at Ulster University where he was the Director of the Economic Policy Centre. The Centre carries out a broad range of public policy research projects on issues such as skills needs, tax policy, labour market outcomes and policy impact. Neil has built a wide range of economic forecasting models across the world and has a proven track record of translating complex forecasting work into policy relevant material and reports. He is a regular media contributor regarding economic policy issues in Ireland. He is also a visiting Professor at Ulster University, an Eisenhower Fellow, a member of the Minister appointed Economic Advisory Group and a member of the Belfast Economic Forum.

Neil will be addressing what roles borders will play in a changing world and look at the difficulties in language and communication in developing effective economic and business policy, he comments: “I am grateful to be invited to be a key note speaker at the prestigious ISBE Conference. The Conference is a very special event and it is a privilege to be able to present such a diverse topic on borders; what roles borders will play in a changing world, and focusing on why an era of greater openness has not been as universally popular with the public as envisaged.”

He continues: “I will also be presenting my research on economic and social challenges, which are driving the call for change on a national and international scale.”

Professor Barbara Orser is the Deloitte Professor in the Management of Growth Enterprises at the Telfer School of Management, University of Ottawa (Canada). She has published over 100 multi-disciplinary studies about the dynamics of enterprise growth, with a focus on women’s entrepreneurship. She is the co-author of recently published book, Feminine Capital. Unlocking the Power of Women Entrepreneurs.

Professor Orser has held a number of leadership roles, including: Vice Dean (Career Development) at Telfer School of Management; Founding Chair of the (2009-2011) Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth; and (2016) Co-chair of the Women Entrepreneurs Ontario Steering Committee (Canada).  Orser is a champion of women entrepreneurs, active advisor to the Canadian federal government and past Board Member of the International Council for Small Business and Canadian Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship.  Her contributions have been recognized by a number of academic and industry awards, including: Women’s Executive Network ‘100 Most Powerful Women in Canada,’ The International Alliance of Women ‘World of Difference 100 Award,’ and Telfer School of Management Award for Service, Teaching and Research.

Professor Orser will address the theme of ‘bordered thinking’ in entrepreneurial policy and business practice and the need for new thinking if the potential of everyone who wants to behave entrepreneurially is to be fully realised and leveraged.

Professor Orser states: “Borders can divide or align. There is a need to consider, critically, the impacts of ‘cognitive borders’ and ‘ways of doing’ on enterprise growth, research and policy. As the Founding Chair of the Canadian Taskforce for Women’s Business Growth I want to explore and share insights to the paradoxes of bordered thinking, and how small business researchers are playing leadership roles in dismantling borders while academic practices can often stifle cross-boundary initiatives.”

Dr James Nesbitt OBE, Actor, Ulster University Chancellor and entrepreneurial business owner, will give the keynote address at the Annual Awards Ceremony & Gala Dinner on 8th November.  In addition to James being an internationally-renowned actor known for his roles in Cold FeetThe Missing and The Secret, he was appointed in 2010 to the position of Chancellor for Ulster University, addressing audiences for Ulster University events, and conferences for Northern Ireland Chamber of Commerce and the Londonderry & Strabane Chamber of Commerce.

ISBE runs from Wednesday 8th November to Thursday 9th November at the Europa Hotel in Belfast. To register and for further information visit


Pictured (L-R): Tony Wall, ISBE Conference Chair & Senior Lecturer at Ulster University Business School; Neil Gibson, EY Chief Economist; and Pauric McGowan, ISBE President and Ulster University Business School Lecturer.

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