Connecting Research with Entrepreneurship Ecosystems.

A partnership is forged between ImaginationLancaster and Stanbic Bank’s Accelerate in Botswana.

ImaginationLancaster is delighted to announce that the Accelerate Division of Stanbic Bank in Botswana is officially a Strategic Partner through the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the two parties. Thanks to the £13.2m secured by ImaginationLancaster in 2019 from the Expanding Excellence in England (E3) fund, ImaginationLancaster’s research has connected with new partners through Beyond Imagination. Accelerate is a dedicated unit within Stanbic Bank which supports young entrepreneurs in Botswana. Accelerate acts as an interface between the Bank and communities, aiming to empower Botswana’s youth with the necessary motivation and infrastructure to help improve employability and entrepreneurship. Botswana’s economy is heavily reliant on minerals and requires diversification and a change of narrative to improve youth unemployment and opportunities. The partnership came about due to Dr Badzilli Nthubu’s PhD research during 2020 on how Co-design and visualisation tools can help entrepreneurs better understand local entrepreneurship ecosystems. This is in addition to other joint intitatives like the “Hack4Blood” initiative in Botswana. This research included delivering co-design workshops in Botswana whereon he met Tebogo Mogaleemang from Spectrum Analytics, who later introduced him to Larona Makgoeng, Head of the Accelerate Division of Stanbic Bank, and the seeds of a partnership began to form.

The working partnership will focus on finding effective ways to engage actively with Accelerate and the entrepreneurs it serves to facilitate innovation and growth within that community and discover collaborative research opportunities. Also, to understand local needs and use our collective knowledge and capabilities for economic, social, and cultural benefit. This will considerably strengthen Stanbic Bank’s Accelerate and provide opportunities for significant research. Practically, the MOU and partnership between ImaginationLancaster and Accelerate will initially be brought to life through a project on the ‘Right to Repair’ ecosystem as a solution to fight climate change. Through the project entrepreneurs across manufacturing and services industries in Botswana will be engaged to expand the entrepreneurial ecosystem with the aim of creating new job opportunities, products and services. This project is initially funded by the Commonwealth scholarship commission in the UK, Alumni Community Engagement Fund. This fund is intended to support the first co-design workshop on knowledge exchange and awareness on the Right to Repair ecosystem and climate action. There are also plans for joint publications and the development of funding bids.

An event to sign the Memorandum of Understanding  was held through an online ceremony on the 29th of November 2021. Prior to the ceremony, Imagination Lancaster academics and Professor Magnus George and Brian Gregory from Lancaster Universities University Management School (LUMS) were key speakers in an online workshop with Accelerate entrepreneurs on Connecting research with Entrepreneurship Ecosystems. Dr David Perez, Dr Badzilli Nthubu and Dr Mike Stead presented the work that might lead to the ‘Right to Repair’ collaboration and how design can contribute to social entrepreneurship. Brian Gregory presented on LUMS Global entrepreneurs in Residence programme. This programme currently has 83 Entrepreneurs in Residence (EIR) from around the globe who bring business acumen to their country of origin. The EIR breathes life into student theories by delivering masterclass talks, offering student projects within their business, and taking part in academic research to further extend understanding of business and entrepreneurship. To consolidate and demonstrate our commitment to continue working together, representatives from Lancaster University and Stanbic Bank attended the MOU ceremonial event. Lancaster University was represented by Prof Paul Connolly, Executive Dean of the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences; Prof. Leon Cruickshank, Director of Research at ImaginationLancaster; Prof. Magnus George, Head of Department, LUMS and a Professor in Entrepreneurship along with Dr Badzilli Nthubu and Dr Mike Stead and Gemma Coupe, Impact Manager for Beyond Imagination. Accelerate was represented by Mr Larona Makoeng, in attendance was also Mr Tebogo L. Mogaleemang Owner and Director of Spectrum Analytics who is one of the entrepreneurs within the Stanbic Bank Accelerate. The understanding represents the vision of two institutions to work together to deliver international interdisciplinary research with co-production and real-world impact for the benefit of communities embedded at the heart of the partnership.