The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship Research and Knowledge Exchange Fund (RAKE) Call for applications 2011


Entrepreneurial engagement with the “Big Society” Rhetoric and Realities

The Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE) Research and Knowledge Exchange (RAKE) fund is an initiative supported by Barclays Bank and the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Department of Business Innovation and Skills (BIS), administered through ISBE. This initiative aims to encourage and support research activities from academics, third sector organisations, consultants and practitioners with the ambition of drawing together and generating an entrepreneurial community of practice to facilitate knowledge exchange and transfer.

Applications are invited from individuals or teams; collaborative bids which draw together any combination of third sector organisations, academic researchers, consultants and practitioners are welcome. The Principal Investigator must be employed within a UK institution but may be partnered with an international team. Research teams which demonstrate capacity building through collaborations between experienced and early career academics would be favourably considered; applications which demonstrate ‘in-kind’ contributions from partner organisations are welcomed as are those jointly funded from other sources. Applications presented as pilot studies, with the aim of generating future funding from other sources, are encouraged. As such, we wish to promote engagement with all who have an interest or stake in generating further insight and understanding into contemporary entrepreneurial activities, behaviours and practices. 

The notion of a “Big Society” is one which, David Cameron insists, can empower social enterprises, third sector organisations and voluntary groups to identify and provide many critical local services currently delivered via local authorities and the public sector more broadly. This ‘Big Society’ construct is difficult to accurately define and there is considerable uncertainty and confusion regarding the future roles and responsibilities of social enterprises and indeed, their scope to take on these responsibilities. Consequently, we would invite research proposals which explore how social enterprises are preparing for this potential new role, to what extent are they fit, able and willing to take over a range of service provisions and what the implications of this shift in policy and practice might be for both the organisations and those who rely upon their services. Moreover, at the same time as being expected to expand their scope and coverage, many social enterprises are losing public funding thus, a related theme here focuses upon addressing future financial challenges. This is a very broad topic area which can span theory, policy and practice but applications must relate to knowledge exchange and transfer. Applications can reflect any aspect of this call so might include the following issues in the context of social enterprise, but this is not an exhaustive list

•    Managerial challenges in generating capacity to expand service coverage
•    Managing funding and finance
•    Entrepreneurial philanthropy
•    Employment issues
•    Working in partnerships and networks
•    Leadership models/mentoring leaders and managerial teams

In addition, we are particularly interested in initiatives which explore the changes related to the emergence of LEPs as RDAs are disbanded. Thus, applications exploring how:

•    LEP members perceive their new role,
•    How will they support and add value to local regional economic development
•    How might they generate more entrepreneurial engagement and capacity

We would also draw attention to the current Business Engagement Strategy of the ESRC which embraces three broad priorities any of which can be mapped onto and integrated with themes outlined above:

•    Economic Performance and Sustainable Growth
•    Influencing Behaviour and Informing Interventions
•    A Vibrant and Fair Society

Clearly, the contribution of entrepreneurship and entrepreneurial activity can be mapped onto these priorities. Thus, applications which indicate their relevance to these issues would be welcomed. Despite any distinctive focus, we would emphasise that all proposals must clearly demonstrate and describe relevance to the notion of knowledge transfer and exchange related to the context of the bid. 

For this round of funding, we envisage awarding a number of separate grants of around £10,000 - £12,000 each. These will not support full economic costing given ISBE’s position as a registered charity. Applications for smaller, seed corn funds would not be discounted however, we will not consider bids of over £12,000.

Successful grant holders will be required to fulfil the following conditions:
•    To be in membership of ISBE for the duration of the award
•    To present their work at the annual ISBE conference
•    To make findings available to the ESRC’s business channel on ESRC
     Society Today (EST)  
•    To produce a satisfactory end of award report within three months of the
     completion of the research
•    To recognise the ISBE RAKE fund in any presentations or publications
     arising from an award 
•    To report to the RAKE fund management board to discuss research

The call for 2011 applications has now closed and notifications of awards will be given by mid September. We suggest the earliest starting date for research projects should be 1st October 2011. 

For info on the ISBE RAKE fund 2010 awards click here or to see the RAKE 2009 research outcomes click here