One of the world's leading experts on entrepreneurship is urging businesses in the Highlands and Islands to change their mindset to become globally successful.
Serial entrepreneur and founder of the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) Entrepreneurship Center, Ken Morse, believes creating the right environment for businesses to flourish will come about by successful business people passing on their skills to the next generation.
He has applauded a concerted drive made in recent years by Highlands and Islands Enterprise (HIE) to support local businesses in acquiring the expertise and skills needed to pursue and succeed in new markets overseas and the sharing of this knowledge and experience with others.
However, Mr Morse thinks that Scottish business people would benefit from being more ambitious and also from adopting a more direct approach. He says: “We need to see more ambition. It can be taught. Support for entrepreneurship can and should be public policy in today's tsunami of global competition.”
He was speaking in advance of a visit he is making to the Inverness later this month where he and Laura Barker Morse, managing director of Entrepreneurship Ventures Inc., will run a two-day practical training course for business people who want to perform on the world stage
“Designing, Leading and Building a World Class Management Team,” will be held on 15-16 February and is open to all ambitious business and social enterprises in the Highlands and Islands whether they are considering expanding, downsizing or looking to attract staff or skills from out with the region or make the most of those currently existing within their organisation.
Mr Morse himself is in no doubt that HIE’s Business Growth Programme is beginning to show dividends for the Highlands and Islands. He says: “Thanks to the HIE sustained initiative, and a parallel initiative at the University of Edinburgh's School of Informatics, Scotland and the Highlands are pulling ahead. The best is yet to come. It takes a few years for the education and coaching to bear fruit.”
As well as teaching world-wide, Mr Morse is presently writing a book on Global Entrepreneurship and has been able to draw on his experience of shaping economic development in several regions around the world, including Canada, New Zealand and the Netherlands.
North entrepreneurs have this week welcomed Mr Morse's return to the Highlands and also praised HIE for the link they have forged with MIT.
HIE's Business Growth Programme, in partnership with MIT's Sloan School of Management and Entrepreneurship Center includes week long intensive immersion courses at MIT. It also comprises the series of workshops in the Highlands and Islands called the Entrepreneurs Growth Programme (EGP), coaching and mentoring as well as access to research students and connection to an international network of experts, markets and customers. Highland businesses are then encouraged to support and mentor each other, thus building up a natural base of knowledge transfer and increase in the ambition of the region through celebrating successful role models and setting an entrepreneurial culture in Scotland.
Among those who have benefited from the Business Growth Programme is Jamie Smith, founder and managing director of the Ice Factor, an award winning mountain activity centre in Kinlochleven, near Forth William. He spent a week at the Entrepreneurship Centre in Boston in 2007.
Mr Smith commented: “Ken Morse is an internationally acclaimed entrepreneur and his real strength is applying academic best practice with a proven tick list of success factors allied with perhaps the best network of contacts in the business world.”
Gary Campbell is managing director of Tain based Environmental Hygiene Products Ltd which manufactures and supplies a wide range of sanitary ware to industry selling 99 percent of its products out with the Highlands. Mr Campbell also spent a week at the Boston Centre two years ago.
He said: “Ken Morse is one of the top five MBA lecturers in the world. MIT is not Ivy league, but it isn't far off it and people in the Highlands don't realise what a huge bonus it is for the area to have access to that level of teaching.”
Adam Kelliher is chief executive officer and joint founder of Equateq, which operates a production, and research facility in the Western Isles making super-pure fatty acid concentrates for the nutrition industry. He said: “It was definitely a big step for HIE to link up with MIT but they chose well. I've looked at other entrepreneurship courses around the world but the one offered by MIT is by far the best. If you take the message and run with it, your business will succeed, or at least succeed a lot faster than it would have done.”
Places are still available on the next EGP training course this February, which will take place at the Drumossie Hotel, Inverness. For further information or to register visit www.entrepreneurship-scotland.com or www.hie.co.uk/entrepreneurship to see the dates of the next workshops and programmes coming up in 2010.