New Deputy Director for the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship announced

Professor Jill MacBryde was recently appointed as Deputy Director for the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship. Here, she answers some questions on her research, interests and upcoming projects.

What are your research interests?

I would say I am interested in operations management and performance in changing environments – which has led me more into the innovation community. Much of my academic career has involved researching and collaborating with engineering and manufacturing firms, although I do also work with a broader range of organisations, including service providers. I’ve always been a champion of working across disciplinary boundaries and I’m an active member of the UK Research & Innovation (UKRI) Innovation Caucus. This has led me to advise UKRI on a number of things – often around integrating technology challenges (like many of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes) with knowledge and expertise from the social sciences. I am active in both the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) Manufacturing Made Smarter and Future Flight challenges.

Can you tell me about some of your recent and upcoming projects?

I currently have a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) project with Scottish Power helping them create an innovation culture. I also worked with North Yorkshire Police (funded by Higher Education funding Council for England [HEFCE] and the Police Knowledge Fund - £1million) who were faced with a fast-changing environment (particularly the challenge of working with people with mental health issues) and needed to redesign processes and operations.

In the last 12 months I completed a short project (funded by the Economic & Social Research Council [ESRC] through the Productivity Insights Network) investigating productivity in manufacturing firms in the UK. And before that I was looking at how Brexit and other constitutional changes could disrupt sustainable food supply chains.

I am trying to get a collaboration off the ground with University College Dublin around “New Business Models for Manufacturing”. And last week I got confirmation of a new grant from ESRC for a project entitled “Understanding the impact of the Covid-19 crisis on UK manufacturing and identifying priorities for renewal through innovation”. 

You have held a number of impactful roles across Strathclyde and other UK universities including Deputy Dean at the York Management School and Director of Research for the Strathclyde Institute for Operations Management. Can you tell me about your plans for your new role as Deputy Director of the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship (HCE)?

Looks like I am joining at an exciting time for the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship but also quite an uncertain time for the university sector as a whole. Strathclyde is in a strong position but it is a time where undoubtedly there will be conversations around the future and about strategy going forward. So, joining Nigel as a Deputy gives him that extra bit of capacity and support. One of the things that drew me to HCE is the supportive family feel. Making sure we build on this and that we develop staff is very important to me. But we have yet to work out the detail!

Can you tell me more about the Innovation & Entrepreneurship theme that runs across Strathclyde that you’re a co-lead on?

I joined Marisa and Eleanor on the strategic theme. Innovation and Entrepreneurship is meant to be a cross cutting theme – so I’m keen to try to extend the activities across the university. I have been a member of the ESRC/Innovate UK Innovation Caucus for the past 6 years or so and I have got involved in a number of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund programmes such as Future Flight and Manufacturing Made Smarter and I can see there is huge scope for social science researchers and the technologist to work together and both win in terms of research. We are looking at how we make this happen at Strathclyde - ultimately my dream would be to be successful in securing funding from ESRC for a research centre that integrates the technology and social science elements – and gives PGR students and early career researchers the opportunity to work in an interdisciplinary way.

What do you think the Hunter Centre can do for current and future entrepreneurs?

I think the Hunter Centre already does an amazing job supporting both current and future entrepreneurs. Obviously through UG and PG programmes and modules that are taken by students across the university we are providing support to future entrepreneurs. And through activities like the Growth Advantage Programme, Productivity Through People and many other engagement activities we are supporting existing businesses. For me I think there is scope to get involved with initiatives such as the Glasgow City Innovation District and the National Manufacturing Institute, Scotland (NMIS) and with the activities of the new clusters such as Fintech and Space. I think the potential to work across disciplines is really exciting. For many of the manufacturing companies I have been working with the Covid-19 crisis has forced them to look at not just different ways of working, but about new business models. So, I can see opportunity here for the Hunter Centre to use their expertise to help some of these businesses who are considering different futures. And at the same time, it could open up new avenues for research. Through my involvement with the Future Flight programme, which aims to revolutionise the way people and goods fly, I can see very different futures facing so many businesses – and again a whole host of opportunities for HCE!


Published: 3 November 2020

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