Hult Prize 2020 – Save Our Planet by Student Entrepreneurship

The Hult Prize returns in 2020 and we’re on the hunt for students across Staffordshire University to enter as teams in this year’s competition ahead of the closing date on Tuesday 3 December 2019.

The Hult Prize is both the world’s largest student enterprise competition and the world’s largest movement for social impact. Students from universities around the globe compete to win $1,000,000 in start-up funding to start a business that solves a pressing social issue.

For 2020, the Hult Prize challenges teams from universities globally to build bold businesses that:

 1. Have a positive net impact on the environment with every sale completed, dollar earned, and decision made; and

 2. Reach no fewer than a million consumers within a decade.

Hult Prize 2020 Challenge

This year’s business challenge concerns climate change and is our chance to show the world that our institution is dedicated to Impact. There are many benefits of competing apart from the chance to win the $1,000,000 in start-up funding. 

Students will get to hone their business skills, develop exciting business ideas, engage with fellow students from every part of our planet, and represent the university at a global level.

They will compete across hundreds of cities en-route to regional finals and the summer Hult Prize Accelerator. A final round and awards ceremony is hosted by Former President Bill Clinton each year at the Clinton Global Initiative annual meeting.

Staffordshire University Students with Other International Students at the Regional Finals in London, 2019.

How do you compete in the Hult Prize at Staffordshire University?

All students need to do is develop an idea and form a team. 

Each team (of between three to four students) should fill the form here and click the submit button.

This will qualify them for our on-campus event which takes place on Wednesday 4 December at LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road). At the event each team will get ten minutes to pitch their idea to our judges and will go through five minutes of questioning.

Where can I get more information or register for the Hult Prize 2020?

Visit the Staffs Uni page on the Hult Prize website to register teams and/or to contact Tolu Olarewaju our University Hult Prize Campus Director.

Important Dates:

Friday 29 November 2019:
Q&A Session at LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road) – 2 pm.

Tuesday 3 December 2019:
Team Registration Deadline – 6 pm. All teams must register here.

Wednesday 4 December 2019: The Main Event On-Campus Team Business Idea Pitches.
Venue: LT001 Ashley Lecture Theatre (Leek Road) – 11 am to 1 pm.

All students and members of staff are welcome to watch the business idea pitches.

Need help with Digital Marketing in 2020?

The MSc in Digital Marketing Management is one of our awards to meet the changing demands of industry. Marketing is going through a fundamental change with ever more marketing carried out online – a major consequence of this is the incredibly detailed data that is generated which leads to data driven policy.

The marketing industry is booming, examples from our partners include, Synectics Solutions in Newcastle under Lyme, Don’t Panic who organise many digital award nights and conferences or alumni who have set up businesses such as Jill Quick, or Louise Holland

To get our Masters students ready for the industry we have two modules:

  1. ‘The Management of a Digital Marketing Project’ – this module will prepare a tri-partite agreement between the student, the academic staff and the organisation as to the focus of the project, existing benchmark measures, what is to be achieved and how to make the project sustainable (so that it can continue after the student leaves). This is carried out between January to March/April
  2. The Work Based Digital Marketing Project – a credit work experience (450 hours) to deliver the project with the organisation concerned. (April to August)

The project can be in any type of organisation e.g. private sector, public sector, charity or a university. It is desirable but not essential for the work project activity to take place at the premises, or it could be a mix with some days in the company and some work off site.

We have built in flexibility to the work-placement so it could be that you would like a portfolio of tasks to be completed rather than just one main project. Examples could be – creation of a digital marketing strategy, audit and re-launch of social media, budget and investment plan for marketing, devising and implementing a training plan for existing staff.

As the module is part of the course then paid remuneration is not required. However, we would expect travel expenses and any other identified costs of the project to be paid – these can be discussed and agreed before the placement starts.

Below are profiles of some of the students on the course so reach out direct to them if you are interested or if you want to discuss it with a staff memebr contact Jon Fairburn 01782 294094 jon.fairburn@staffs.ac.uk

Alex Bedford

Alex Bedford
Alex Bedford

I have a lot of experience developing and leading teams to achieve results. This is proven through a history of achievement working with Active Lives Education, Cheshire Football Association, Birmingham County Football Association, Walsall Local Authority, Sported UK, Sports Across Staffordshire, and The Football Association.

I have a keen interest in Digital Marketing. I am pursuing a Master’s degree in Digital Marketing Management.  I have experience in creating and managing marketing and communication strategies and also have experience in website management, email and text marketing, social media management, content curation, and online paid advertising.

I currently run a business called Active Lives Education however am looking for a project that helps me gain further experience in digital marketing, to develop my skills and develop a career or business in this field.

Contact information – Linkedin profile email alex.bedford@activeliveseducation.co.uk mob 07468583274

Amber Mottershead

Amber Mottershead
Amber Mottershead

I hold a foundation degree of science in Film and Television Production and have recently graduated from my BA degree in Events Management (2 year fast track) which I gained a 2:1 in. I have a large work experience portfolio from volunteering to paid work. For 4 years I was a manager of a Children’s play centre then moving onto the cash manager of B&M. I now work as an Events Assistant at Moddershall Oaks. For my volunteer work I have experience of working for the likes of Channel 4, Woman of the Year and Stone Food and Drink Festival. I have also worked several corporate events such as the Hotel Marketing Conference and Land Rover.

I have skills within Web design, as well as using all social media platforms for brand building. I also have quite a good understanding with photoshop and other computer software that may be needed, I am a quick learner and can pick up things fairly quickly.

Ideally, I would like a placement within a sector that holds Events, but I would be open to offers. 

If you would like to follow my LinkedIn, this can be found at: https://www.linkedin.com/in/amber-mottershead-ba48b1166/ or email me Amber1210@live.co.uk

Or if you’d like to have a look at some of my volunteer work you can find this on Instagram: @amottevents 

Lewis Copeland

Lewis Copeland
Lewis Copeland

I have recently graduated from my BA Events Management (2 Year Accelerated) in which I achieved a first-class honours. I have previous work experience as a bar supervisor for three years as well as voluntary work experience with Channel 4, The Stone Food and Drink Festival as well as being a student representative for my course.

I currently work for The Student Hub at Staffordshire University as a Digital Marketing Ambassador. In this role I manage multiple platforms (Facebook, Twitter and Instagram) as well as improving the overall engagement and reach of the platforms.

I am able to use social media platforms to build and uphold brand image. I have experience in using analytics to improve the reach of posts as well as identifying demographics which not be being reached and making steps to target them.

Ideally I would like a placement in tourism, events or hospitality but I am open to offers.

If you would like to connect with me, my LinkedIn is: https://www.linkedin.com/in/lewis-copeland-10268515b/  or Email me at: lewis_copeland@hotmail.com

Sophie Lawrence

Sophie Lawrence
Sophie Lawrence

I have recently graduated with a First-Class BA (Hons) Degree in Events Management and have now started studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a large work experience portfolio from both paid and volunteer work. I have been a chef for the past three years at The Orange Tree Bar and Grill, I also hold a range of customer service skills which I have been able to develop by working at a bar and on a hotel reception. To broaden by experience in events management I have volunteered at numerous events such as Woman of the Year 2018, Stone Food and Drink Festival and The Royal Oak Gin festival.

I have skills in web design, brand building and analytics, I can also use all forms of social media and some computer software which may be required. I am a reliable team player who learns quickly, I enjoy expressing my creativity when carrying out jobs and ensuring all tasks are completed to the best of my ability.

If possible, I would like to find a placement within the events, tourism or hospitality sector although I am open to other opportunities.

Please find me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/sophie-lawrence-05367414a/) or email me (sophielouiselawrence@gmail.com) if you are interested in my expertise.

Charlotte Gooding

Charlotte Gooding

I have recently graduated with a 2:1 in BA (Hons) Events Management and am now currently studying MSc Digital Marketing Management. I have a wide work experience portfolio varying from paid work to voluntary. Over the last three years I have been a bar staff member for Stonegate pubs working for Walkabout until it closed down in April this year and now Yates Newcastle-under-Lyme. Within my role at Yates I tend to work on the bar and occasionally the kitchen, but recently I have taken on the role to be more involved in the social media for the business. To help to widen my knowledge of events and volunteers I volunteered for the Stone Food and Drink Festival in 2017/18. 

My main stills revolve around social media and helping to design promotional material. I am a reliable person with work ethic and put all my effort into anything that I do.

My ideal placement if possible would be within the events, tourism or hospitality industry. However, I am willing to try anything new that may broaden my knowledge and skills 

Please find me on LinkedIn (https://www.linkedin.com/in/charlotte-gooding-66867314a/) or email me (charlottegooding@live.co.uk) if you would like to contact me.

Aaron Shaw

Aaron Shaw

I recently graduated from Staffordshire University with a 2:1 BA (Hons) degree in Business management and I’m now studying an MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I am a team leader at the Staffordshire University Students’ Union. This role requires excellent communication skills, the ability to delegate tasks to the team I am managing and making sure the venue (LRV and Verve) is running as smoothly as possible. This has taught me a multitude of transferable skills within customer service as I have developed my interpersonal and leadership skills. This is reflected within my dedication to the Staffordshire Stallions American Football as a team player and a defensive captain.

I’m currently looking for a digital marketing placement for my work based digital marketing project. This will give me a chance to utilise the skills and knowledge that I have learnt within my masters and apply it to a professional environment. Any opportunity to be able to get this experience would enable me to further my employability.

My degree has given me an insight into a variety of different aspects within Business Management. This has given me fundamental knowledge on topics that also relate to the MSc in Digital Marketing Management. I have extended my academic skills and abilities by studying into a specialised area of Business.  An MSc has enabled me to have a greater understanding of analytics, search engine optimisation and the ability to design a global digital marketing strategy.

If you would like to contact me, my details are;

LinkedIn – linkedin.com/in/aaron-shaw-ba20a3150

Email – aaronjamesshaw1994@hotmail.co.uk

Leah Mahon

Leah Mahon

I have graduated with a BA (Hons) Journalism and I am now studying my MSc in Digital Marketing Management. Throughout university, I worked as a venue member for Staffordshire University’s Student’s Union in front and back of house customer service roles and as a Student Ambassador. These roles have instilled me with strong interpersonal skills and self-organisation through working in these multifaceted positions.

I have experience working as a Trainee Journalist at The Sentinel newspaper and Staffs Live, where I was responsible for researching and writing feature and news content for print and online publication. I utilised my qualifications in Reporting and Shorthand at 100WPM from the National Council of Training for Journalists, ensuring accuracy and time management.

I am an experienced CRM Marketing Assistant, where I was responsible for curating content for email marketing campaigns and market research. Studying Digital Marketing has developed my knowledge within integral marketing theories, brand development and content curation/SEO. I am now implementing this in the creation of my own lifestyle blog, The Wordsmith.

I am interested in opportunities in the content marketing sector, and I am open to writing diverse content in an array of industries.

My contact details are:

LinkedIn   –    https://www.linkedin.com/in/leah-mahon-b15627121/

Email       –    leah_mahon@outlook.com

The power of branding #racetowin 2019

Prof. Vish maheshwari, Associate dean and professor of marketing


It is that time of the year again when festivities are in full swing for the imminent arrival of Christmas. There is a special feeling around mostly ‘merry’ but with a touch of somewhat uncertainty about few other developments that I would like to avoid discussing on this occasion!!

However, concentrating on the interesting #racetowin approach from most retailers to acquire as much customer interest, awareness and conviction (in the form of business), it is fascinating to see and experience how power of branding and varied marketing communication strategy is put in action.

From emotion to cognition, symbolic to functional and logical, social to societal aspects, but all with a touch of empathy, being crafted by retailers to connect with their customers at the time of this wonderful festive season. Below are some of the examples to understand application and delivery of brand essence through impactful storytelling:

McDonalds’ Christmas advert portrays close bond between Archie the imaginative reindeer and a young girl called Ellie, displaying the love and togetherness for families.

(Image: McDonald’s)

As usual much awaited each year, John Lewis (and Waitrose) advert this time aims at combining the sense of joy, love, compassion, excitement and friendship between a little girl Ava and a young dragon called Edgar.

(Image: John Lewis & Partners/PA)

Whereas, Boots have focused its advert around practicalities and struggle to find the right gift for your loved ones and is part of its wider festive campaign ‘Gift Like You Get Them’. This is alongside the launch of its new and creative approach through developing various personas to find perfect gifts using curated edits online called Boots ‘Boutique’ covering both offline and online platforms.

On the other hand, the online retailer Very.co.uk has focused its Christmas campaign around important aspect of community spirit promoting a powerful message of social responsibility and sharing the joyfulness of festivities by ‘act of giving’ and collectiveness.


Finally, it’s the return of Amazon’s singing boxes again for third year in a row but with a better emotional touch where the delivery of Christmas gifts through these boxes claim to play an important part in bringing smiles for your loved ones and create wonderful festive memories.

The examples above demonstrates that the concept of delivering brand essence and identity through meaningful interactions. Using relevant messages helps in connecting with customers through different attributes across all channels of integrated marketing communication. It also develops a recognisable brand image for recollection and reconnection with a positive impact and assured conviction during ‘selection/choice making’ stage as part of buying behaviour process. It reinforces the power of brand and branding that goes beyond mere physical and experiential attributes of a product or service.

To end – it is important to assert what philosopher Stephen King once stated that ‘products can be quickly outdated but a successful brand is timeless’


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

What makes an entrepreneur?

June Dennis, Dean of Staffordshire Business School


We’ve been celebrating Global Enterprise Week at Staffordshire Business School this week and have welcomed some fantastic guest speakers.  What’s been very evident is that there is no one reason or way to start your own business – each guest speaker has had a uniquely individual journey and experience. In some instances, they have fallen into self-employment, in others, it was a well thought through and planned decision to do so.

So what makes a successful entrepreneur?

There are so many lists out there that can offer you the top 3 or 7 or 20 traits you must have to be a successful entrepreneur.  This is my list based on what our guest speakers shared this week!

Passion & determination – if you are to succeed, you need to be passionate about your business proposition.  What’s the point of setting up a business in something you don’t like or believe in?  However, passion alone will not be enough.  It really does help if you love what you do, but you need to be prepared for setbacks.  I can promise you that things won’t go as smoothly as you hoped. There will be times when you question whether you did the right thing.  That’s when you need to be resilient and, as they say, ‘keep calm and carry on’.

Strong work ethic & self starter – when you work for yourself, it’s very easy to have a lie-in when you don’t feel like working without realising that time is your most precious commodity.  Even when you don’t feel it, you have to push yourself to make that phonecall, finish the report or knock on the door.  You need to be disciplined.  One friend, when he didn’t have any work, used to go to the cinema or meet friends for a coffee.  Another friend would purposely post leaflets around the neighbourhood to promote his business.  Can you guess which one was most successful?

…but also a good finisher – basically, you won’t get paid until you finish the job.  And, you need to finish the job in good time.  So don’t procrastinate.  Sometimes, ‘good enough’ is better than not getting the job done in time. You won’t get repeat business if you don’t deliver on time.


Creativity – you don’t necessarily have to have a new-to-the-world invention or be able to design amazing advertising campaigns, but you do need to be a good problem solver and find ways around problems that come your way.  That’s being creative! 


Keep an eye out for opportunities – Be a purposeful networker.  You don’t have to be an extravert to develop a supportive network and you never know what’s around the corner!  Nearly every contract I received resulted in further business, either from the same organisation or as a result of them passing my details on to a third party.  For example, as a result of writing Mintel reports, I was contacted by the chief executive at the time asking if I could act as an expert witness in a court case.  The timing wasn’t great and I had to juggle domestic commitments and workload but saying yes to this one phone call provided me with the opportunity to be one of a handful of special marketing experts – and it paid well!

Know your worth – friends may ask for freebies or big discounts sometimes with the promise that you’ll get lots of publicity.  If they value you, they will pay for your services or goods.  Occasionally, they may be able to offer you something in kind, such as your first review or office space.  I got a free hair cut from my hairdresser when we spent the time it took to cut my hair discussing how he could improve his pricing policy.  It was win-win and neither of us took the other person’s services for granted. As an expert witness, I realised no one queried how much I was charging, so I increased my fees by £50-£75/day for each new quote.  I never got turned down….

And finally,

Be prepared to learn – constantly!   If you weren’t successful in getting a contract – find out why.  If you made a mistake, learn from it.  Get feedback whenever you can and look at ways to develop new skills.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Digital Entrepreneurship – A Game Changer

Professor Fang Zhao, Staffordshire Business School


Digital revolution is in its full swing now. Digital technologies become pervasive and ubiquitous, disrupting and reshaping business models and processes. According to the estimation of McKinsey Global Institute (2017), by 2030, 75 million to 375 million workers, about 3 to 14 percent of the global workforce will have to change their job categories thanks to digital disruption. Digital technologies have also created and grown the gig (or sharing) economy and generated new entrepreneurial opportunities and new types of entrepreneurship called digital entrepreneurship. The forecast is that digital entrepreneurship may add $1.36 trillion to the future world top ten economies and could generate 10 million additional jobs by 2020 (Nanterne 2014).

What is digital entrepreneurship?

Based on our team’s research, digital entrepreneurship is a distinctive concept signifying a strategic mindset and transformation, through which entrepreneurs and entrepreneurial organisations pursue business opportunities and create new and transformative services/products, processes, digital ecosystems, markets, business models, and ventures involving digital technologies.

What are the opportunities for businesses and organizations?

There are many opportunities that digital technologies can give rise to, in terms of the growth of digital entrepreneurship. In short, they present three key opportunities: connectivity, scalability and speed. Social media, one aspect of digital technologies, plays a key role in connectivity through network relations which may lead to co-creation and co-ownership. Digital connections are the veins of new venture creation linking creative people and focusing minds and actions on making something people want. On the other hand, the scalability and fast speed allow start-ups to scale up and down quickly and extend their reach across borders and time zones. 

What are the key challenges?

However, the low barrier to use digital platforms increases competitions and minimizes the chances of distinguishing one’s products/services from its rivals. There are also intellectual property issues, cyber security, data protection, to name a few. Digital entrepreneurs need to learn fast to upgrade their capability and skills. New learning becomes a continuous part of venture and business capability development. Knowledge bytes are a daily venture building feature as learning and working become integrated and fused in the digital entrepreneur’s world. Last but not the least, technology is just a tool, just a conduit, just a pathway, the goal is the business. The ultimate objectives that you use technologies for your business count the most. 


For further discussion on the topic area, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise in Staffordshire Business School, Staffordshire University at fang.zhao@staffs.ac.uk.


#GEW2019

About Global Entreprenuership Week:

From the 18-24November, Global Entrepreneurship Week inspires people everywhere through local, national and global activities designed to help them explore their potential as self-starters and innovators. These activities, from large-scale competitions and events to intimate networking gatherings, connect participants to potential collaborators, mentors and even investors—introducing them to new possibilities and exciting opportunities…Continue reading

Learn more about Global Entreprenuership Week 2019 by visiting: https://www.genglobal.org/united-kingdom

#GEW2019

Who run the world? MUMS!

by Stef Price  (student)

It’s 2018 and the term ‘mumpreneur’ seems to pop up everywhere just lately. But why? And what does it mean?

Well, according to the Oxford Dictionary, a mumpreneur is “a woman who sets up and runs her own business in addition to caring for her young child or children”. But why? It seems like a lot of work on top of the endless list of mum duties!

Is it because us mums want to spend as much time as possible with our little darlings? Is it the getting up 20 kazillion times in the night to return a lost dummy to tiny mouths that has us too tired to get up for the old 9 to 5? Or are we just kick-ass independent women, confident enough to give the finger to corporate fat cats whilst lining our own pockets instead of theirs?

For me, it was all of the above….and then some.

In 2013, at the grand old age of 32, baby #1 came along. I loved being a mum and wanted to spend as much time with him as possible but when he was only 5 months old, it became too much trying to survive on a single poor salary and statutory maternity pay. I reluctantly trundled back to the corporate world to help put food into his little mouth.

Being able to contribute financially again felt great, but the cost, to me, was massive. I missed his first words, the first time he clapped, his first crawl, the first time he pulled himself up to standing, his first steps.…pretty much his first everything. It sucked, but I smiled and cracked on. As you do.

Stef Price Mumpreneur

Stef Price Mumpreneur

Fast forward 3 and a half years and baby #2 rocks up, yay! However, this time I wanted to cling to as many precious moments as possible for as long as possible so I vowed that I would have the full 9 months of maternity entitlement if it killed me! We planned, we saved and we stocked up on nappies to within an inch of our lives to make sure it happened…and it did! And it was amazing!

Getting a bit of help

Getting a bit of help

But something else happened too. I became a shirker! Well, kind of. I didn’t want to not work, I just didn’t want to work for somebody else – I was a shirker of the corporate world. I didn’t want to go back to my old job. I didn’t even want a new job. I just didn’t want a job.

I googled, I pondered and I scratched my head about how I could live the impossible dream of being a ‘stay home mum’ who works around the school run. I had a couple of embarrassing attempts at network marketing, but it didn’t feel right. I didn’t love it and I didn’t feel like I was being me.

I wanted to do something that I love, when it suited me and I wanted people to pay me for it. Is that too much to ask? Probably. Did I do it anyway? Yes!

And so was born Frog Princess, Hand Crafted Gifts.

An outlet for my ever-present creative streak, I began to make and sell hand crafted and personalised gifts. I touted my wares on my personal Facebook page and received a few sales and some positive feedback. It spurred me on and I decided to set up a Facebook group, a Facebook page and more recently, a website and an Instagram page in order to reach more people.

Some of the products available at Frog Princess

Some of the products available at Frog Princess

In the meantime, I’m in my second year of studying for a Bachelors degree in Business Management at Staffordshire University so I don’t have as much time as I would like to spend on my little venture, so for now, it will stay just that. Little.

However, I love what I do and I love the extra bit of money it brings. Most of all, I love that I can do it around family life and around my studies and that I have the flexibility to ramp it up or step back as and when life dictates.

According to Small Business, in 2016, 17% of Millenial mums said they planned on setting up their own business within 12 months. And whatever their reasons for doing so, whether they’re the same or different to my reasons, watch out cos mumpreneurs are taking over the world!

Frog Princess website 

Frog Princess facebook  group

Frog Princess page

Frog Princess on Instagram 

A Recipe for Success

Written by Angela Lawrence, Associate Dean at Staffordshire business school


There’s an Autumn nip in the air, the Great British Bake Off has begun and the annual McMillan World’s Biggest Coffee Morning is just around the corner. Kenwood mixers are whirling into action in kitchens across the UK.

Meanwhile, bags are being packed, goodbyes said, and freshers are itching to begin their university life. Around the World lecturers are preparing to welcome their new students and planning for the academic year to come.

It strikes me that these two situations have something in common. I wouldn’t go as far as to say that all lecturers are good bakers (far from it!), but there is something vaguely familiar about the nurturing, caring principles of baking and lecturing; the desire for a good outcome and the commitment to working hard to achieve this.

Quality Ingredients

Ever tried baking a cake with less than quality ingredients – with a dodgy cooker and scales that don’t quite weigh correctly? The chances are your cakes won’t turn out to be as good as you would like them to be. Quality, fit-for-purpose equipment and excellent ingredients are needed to guarantee the bake that you are looking for.

When choosing a university to spend three or more years of their life at, prospective students similarly seek quality – high rankings in the league tables and TEF, good NSS scores, high levels of student satisfaction and committed, highly qualified academics. A quality university is needed to turn out a top-notch, highly qualified and work-ready graduate.

The Recipe

Even quality ingredients can’t ensure a perfect bake if the recipe is wrong. One too many eggs or not enough baking powder and the cake’s a flop.

The same balance needs to be considered within the course that a student selects. The onus is on academics to create a balanced mix of exciting learning content, activities, guest lecturers, trips and course materials to ensure that students learn exactly what they need to know. Miss out a vital ingredient and students will struggle to achieve success in their assessments.

The Temperature

Too hot an oven and your cake will burn. Too cool an oven and your cake won’t rise. Getting the temperature right is as important as having the correct recipe.

Lifelong friendships are made at university, so a good balance between studying and fun is needed. The correct work-play balance creates an environment in which students flourish – without the fun some students struggle with the pressure of study and can be tempted to drop out. Too much fun and grades may suffer. A good university seeks to provide exactly the right balance between social and study. Student Unions, personal tutors, pastoral care and student guidance teams are all there to support students in getting it right.

Decorations

Jam and cream fillings, a sprinkle of icing sugar here, a coating of chocolate there and your cake is more than a cake, it’s a thing of beauty. It’s those finishing touches that make your cake the one that everyone wants to take a bite out of.

Similarly, a degree is not enough. Employers are inundated with graduate applications for advertised vacancies, and applications that stand out are those where the candidate has more than just a degree. Work experience, success in student competitions, self-awareness, confidence, professional presentation, global awareness…these are many of the added extras that lead an employer to choose YOU over other applicants.

Staffordshire University has a recipe for success. A university that has risen to within the top 50 universities in the league tables, been awarded a gold in the TEF, achieved one of the highest graduate employability rates in the UK and provided a supportive and fun environment in which students flourish.

Would you like a taste of our recipe? Come and visit us at one of our Open Days to find out for yourself – we can promise you a delicious time.

Undergraduate courses

Postgraduate courses

Is there a panacea for low productivity ?

By Ema Talam   on twitter as @ematalam

Productivity differences between different producers exist and persist, even among those operating within the same industries (Syverson, 2011; Van Reenen, 2011). Achieving higher productivity is of an utmost importance for firms as it leads to better firm performance and leads to increased profits. These increased profits can be used for future investment and wage rises.  The panacea for low productivity is often sought, however, the factors determining productivity are numerous, differing in their scope, level of influence and complexity.

One of the factors determining productivity is innovation. While some studies establish that innovation in general is positively linked with productivity (Movahedi et al., 2017), some limit this link to product innovation (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011). Porter (1990) argues that firms often have no choice but to innovate, as they face competitive pressures coming from their buyers or competitors.

The productivity of a firm may be determined by talents and practices of its managers. Bloom and Van Reenen (2010) have shown that firms that employ better management have higher labour productivity. Management practices differ widely both among different firms and different countries. They are influenced by numerous factors, some of them being: product market competition, labour market regulations, relationship between ownership and management of a firm, education of managers and workers, etc. (Bloom and Van Reenen, 2010).

Quality of inputs is another factor that determines productivity. Rather than clinging on basic resources (or lack of those), it can be argued that productivity is mainly determined by superiority of labour and capital inputs (Porter, 1990; Syverson, 2011). Education, training and experience can all affect quality of labour inputs. Quality differences of capital inputs can influence productivity (Syverson, 2011). The lack of basic resources can push firms to innovate and improve (Porter, 1990). It has been shown that differences in intangible capital and IT can also affect productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Another significant factor that can influence productivity are different decisions regarding the organisation and structure of a firm. Different process improvements through learning-by-doing can also influence productivity (Syverson, 2011).

Productivity spillovers and competition are important external determinants of productivity of a firm. Productivity spillovers occur mainly within the same or similar industries. Competition can hugely affect productivity and firms can face competitive pressures from both other domestic and foreign firms (Syverson, 2011).

The theoretically established ‘learning-by-exporting’ hypothesis states that exporting can improve productivity of a firm. On the one hand, a firm participating in an export market is exposed to a larger competition. On the other hand, by participating in an export market, a firm can gain new knowledge from its buyers and competitors (Wagner, 2007). Some empirical research has confirmed this hypothesis (Damijan et al., 2010).

As discussed above, productivity of a firm is influenced by a numerous factors. Some of the above-mentioned factors can be influenced to a greater extent than the others and some of those factors require shorter periods to be adjusted than the others. However, given that there is variety of factors, their complexity and the level of their potential interactions, the question still remains: is there really a panacea for low productivity?

References:

  1. Bloom, N. and Van Reenen, J. (2010) ‘Why do management practices differ across firms and countries’, The Journal of Economic Perspectives, 24(1), pp. 203-224. Available at: https://www-jstor-org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25703489 (Accessed: 24th June 2018)
  2. Cassiman, B. and Golovko, E. (2011) ‘Innovation and internationalization through exports’, Journal of International Business Studies, 42(1), pp. 56-75. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/25790105 (Accessed: 28th March 2018)
  3. Damijan, J.P., Kostevc, C., & Polanec, S. (2010) ‘From innovation to exporting or vice versa?’, The World Economy, 33(3), pp. 374-398. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 24th March 2018)
  4. Movahedi, M., Shahbazi, K., & Gaussens, O. (2017) ‘Innovation and willingness to export: Is there an effect of conscious self-selection?’, Economics: The Open-Access, Open-Assessment E-Journal, 11(25), pp. 1-22. Available at: http://www.economics-ejournal.org/economics/journalarticles/2017-25 (Accessed: 1st May 2018)
  5. Porter, M. (1990) ‘The competitive advantage of nations’, Harvard Business Review. Available at: https://hbr.org/1990/03/the-competitive-advantage-of-nations (Accessed: 4th June 2018)
  6. Syverson, C. (2011) ‘What determines productivity?’, Journal of Economic Literature, 49(2), pp. 326-365. Available at: http://www.jstor.org.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/stable/23071619 (Accessed: 30th April 2018)
  7. Van Reenen, J. (2011) ‘Does competition raise productivity through improving management quality’, International Journal of Industrial Organisation, 29(3), pp. 306-316. Available at: https://ac-els-cdn-com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/S0167718711000208/1-s2.0-S0167718711000208-main.pdf?_tid=48b828f4-40fc-4fad-a130-5cec9cbc83ab&acdnat=1530139607_684e48c04c59ac476baa4ece54f7c606 (Accessed: 22nd June 2018)
  8. Wagner, J. (2007) ‘Exports and productivity: A survey of the evidence from firm-level data’, The World Economy, 30(1), pp. 60-82. Available at: http://onlinelibrary.wiley.com.ezproxy.staffs.ac.uk/journal/10.1111/%28ISSN%291467-9701/issues (Accessed: 16th April 2018)

 

 

Untangling the link between productivity, exporting and innovation of a firm through Brexit

By Ema Talam  and on twitter @ematalam

It is often claimed that the United Kingdom has benefited from joining European Union in terms of its economic performance. On the other hand, some authors argue that the rate of economic growth in the United Kingdom did not rise as a result of its accession to the European Union in 1973[1] (Coutts et al., 2018).

However, different estimates show that the United Kingdom will experience negative consequences of its exit from European Union, but the magnitudes of those estimates vary. The impacts on productivity are argued and there is no general consensus of the scale that Brexit will affect overall productivity in the United Kingdom.

Coutts et al. (2018, p. 20) state that “no aggregate link exists between trade and productivity for advanced open economies, unlike emerging economies where a relaxation of constraints on trade allow multi-national companies to enter, and to raise both exports and productivity”. At the same time, Dhingra et al. (2017) recognise that losses in terms of productivity are possible and list several factors that may contribute to productivity and welfare losses such as: “reductions in the variety of goods and services, weaker competition, the erosion of vertical production chains, falls in foreign direct investment (FDI), slower technology diffusion, less learning from exports or lower Research and Development” (p. 3).

Productivity, exporting and innovation of a firm are three seemingly distinct concepts. More in depth analysis shows that these concepts are indeed related and that it is almost impossible to examine either one of them without examining the other two. Characteristics of exporters and innovators depict well the extent of the link between the three concepts:

  • Exporters tend to be more productive than non-exporters (Wagner, 2007; Damijan et al., 2010; Caldera, 2010; Movahedi et al., 2017) and often have higher productivity growth (Wagner, 2007).
  • Furthermore, exporters are more likely to innovate (Damijan et al., 2010; Caldera, 2010), spend more on innovation (Caldera, 2010; Monreal-Perez et al., 2012) and have more (major) innovations (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Monreal-Perez et al., 2012) than non-exporters.
  • Innovators tend to be more productive (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Damijan et al., 2010; Caldera, 2010; Cassiman et al., 2010; Movahedi et al., 2017) and are more likely to export (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Damijan et al., 2010; Cassiman et al., 2010) than non-innovators.
  • Exporters and innovators also share the set of common characteristics: they pay higher wages (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Caldera, 2010) and are present in the sectors characterised with higher R&D intensity and greater amount of intra-industry trade (Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002).

A recent report published by Centre for Cities (2018) shows that in Britain, exporters constitute more productive firms. Figure 1 shows that British economy is characterised by large number of firms with low levels of productivity, but also that local service firms are predominantly less productive firms. Exporting firms account 13.2% of all the firms examined. The share of exporting firms among the top ten per cent of the most productive firms in 2015 was 31.2%, while the share of exporting firms among bottom 33 per cent was 5.6% in the same year. (Centre for Cities, 2018).

Figure 1: Productivity of all firms

Figure 1: Productivity of all firms, UK (2015)

Figure 2 Productivity of exporting firms compared to local service firms in the UK (2015)

Source: Centre for Cities (2018) The wrong tail-Why Britain’s ‘long tail’ is not the cause of its productivity problems.

*The report indicates that productivity was calculated as “gross value added per worker at a branch level” (Centre for Cities, 2018).

** Original data source is limited to non-financial business economy

***Only private sector productivity was examined

**** Article in Financial Times (Strauss, 2018) on the report indicates that, in this case, all firms engaged in markets beyond their local one are considered to be exporters. However, it can be assumed that certain portion of these firms export abroad as well.

The link between exporting and productivity is also theoretically grounded. It is commonly hypothesised that exporting and productivity are linked in the following manners:

(1) self-selection hypothesis, suggesting that more productive firms self-select into export markets, and

(2) learning-by-exporting hypothesis, suggesting that firms increase their productivity by participating in export markets (Wagner, 2007). Empirical findings prove the existence of both the link leading from productivity to exporting (Caldera, 2010; Cassiman and Golovko, 2011; Movahedi et al., 2017), as well as the link leading from exporting to productivity (Damijan et al., 2010).

Furthermore, previous research shows that exporting is linked to innovation (Damijan et al., 2010) and, at the same time, that product, process and organisational innovation have an influence on exporting (Basile, 2001; Bleaney and Wakelin, 2002; Caldera, 2010; Cassiman et al., 2010; Cassiman and Golovko, 2011; Monreal-Perez et al., 2012; Fryges et al., 2015; Azar and Ciabuschi, 2017).

Some authors suggest that there exists complementarity between exporting and investment in productivity, in the sense that one raises the profitability of the other (Lileeva and Trefler, 2010). Firm’s productivity can be tackled through factors internal to a firm (i.e. managerial practice and talent, quality of labour and capital inputs, decisions about firm’s structure, etc.) and influenced by the factors that are external to a firm (i.e. productivity spillovers, intramarket competition, regulations, etc.) (Syverson, 2011).

Empirical research has shown that innovation positively influences productivity (Cassiman and Golovko, 2011; Movahedi, Shahbazi and Gaussens, 2017).

Four types of innovation can be distinguished:

(1) product innovation, “the introduction of a good or service that is new or significantly improved with respect to its characteristics or intended uses” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 48),

(2) process innovation, “the implementation of a new or significantly improved production or delivery method” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 49),

(3) marketing innovation, “the implementation of a new marketing method involving significant changes in product design or packaging, product placement, product promotion or pricing” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 49), and

(4) organisational innovation, “the implementation of a new organisational method in the firm’s business practices, workplace organisation or external relations” (OECD/Eurostat, 2005, p. 51). Schmookler (1954) suggests that size of the market is one of the determinants of the level of inventive activities.

Brexit will almost certainly result in larger trade costs for the firms involved. Van Reenen (2016) indicates that there are three distinct categories of trade costs that will increase following Brexit:

“(i) higher tariffs on imports;

(ii) higher nontariff barriers to trade, arising from different regulations, border controls, and the like; and

(iii) the lower likelihood of the United Kingdom participating in future EU integration efforts, such as the continued reduction of nontariff barriers”.

Following the lines of the discussion above, trade costs are likely to have a greater impact on the more productive firms in the British economy. Also, due to the existence and the complexity of the links between exporting, productivity and innovation, adverse effects can be expected to go beyond influences on productivity.

References – blog post – v246

By Ema Talam  and on twitter @ematalam

[1] EEC at the time.

Recent Trends in Microfinance

The term Microfinance is derived from the word microcredit which means “small credit” in simple terms. However, with the expansion of services from Microfinance Institutions (MFIs), different people, agencies, and institutions have defined Microfinance differently. Generally, microfinance is defined as the provision of financial and non-financial services from microfinance institutions to low-income households and small business who were excluded by commercial banks.

The term Microfinance now covers a wide range of product and services such as microloans, savings, insurance, and remittance. Some scholars believe that the first formal microcredit institution was “Grameen Bank”, which was established in 1976 in Bangladesh by Dr Muhammad Yunus, a Nobel peace prize winner in 2006.

The term Microfinance covers a wide range of product and services such as microloans and savings.

The institution was set up as a non-profit institution to provide small credit, especially to women in the rural part of Bangladesh because it was difficult for them to receive loans from commercial banks. Over time, Grameen Bank grew in popularity and customer base and more MFIs started to emerge following the Grameen Model.

What is the Grameen Model?

The Grameen Model was created by Grameen Bank of Bangladesh which has currently the widest replication in many developing countries across the world. In Grameen model Five unrelated, self-selected prospective borrowers are formed and required to make a savings deposit and payment on a loan at given period. The institution does not evaluate these loans as individual loans but as group loans and also leaves members to do most of the management and financial services.

First, two members of the group will receive the loan and then the group members determine the rotation of access to credit, and after timely repayments, an additional two members receive loans. If any member in a group fails to make an installment payment on time, then the borrower or group will be cut off from the future borrowing. However, if the borrower/group makes payment on time and in an orderly manner then bigger loans are granted in the future.

The Grameen model provides credit to the very poor in rural areas without requiring any collateral. The model also has low transaction costs and focuses on women. The Grameen Bank approach is currently being applied in many countries. A few of such countries are Bhutan, Bolivia, Burkina Faso, Chile, Guinea, India, Indonesia, Kenya, Malawi, Malaysia, Mali, Nepal, Nigeria, Pakistan, Peru, Philippines, Sri Lanka, Vietnam and Zambia Some developed countries like Canada, France, and the U.S., have also adopted a version where it is being used to help people become income generators.

Trends in Microfinance

Microfinance Institutions (MFIs) have had global influence and spread around the globe because microfinance has been regarded as one of the effective tools for fighting poverty. Initially, MFIs depended on donations, grants and government subsidies. However, in last decade, some microfinance institutions have realised that they might need to make a profit to provide continuous service, cover their administrative, financial and operational cost, and also budget for the future development without needing any government funds or donations.

In recent years, MFIs have been focusing slightly more on their financial side and as a result, the industry is moving towards profit-oriented MFI’s which means that these MFIs are applying market-based principles. This implies that we have had three stages of MFI’s since their conception which can be seen from the following figure.

Trends in Microfinance Institutions

Some of the first microfinance institutions to adopt the profit-orientated approach were Bank Rakayat Indonesia (BRI), K-Rep in Kenya, Mibanco in Peru, First Microfinance Bank (FMFB) in Pakistan, and CARD Rural Bank in the Philippines. Similarly, PRODEM, the leading Microfinance NGO in Bolivia, transformed into a financial bank called BancoSol.

In conclusion, although MFIs were established as non-profit institutions to provide social services, it seems that microfinance institutions are becoming more like profit-oriented institutions for various reasons.

Sanjib Sherpa (sanjib.sherpa@research.staffs.ac.uk) is currently undertaking his PhD study at Staffordshire University in the area of Microfinance under the supervision of Dr Tolu Olarewaju.