The silver economy and Del Boy

Published: 29 April 2016 at 15:11

Prof Simon Down

Business opportunities presented by the 'silver economy' and the continuing presence of Del Boy-type characters in entrepreneurship are just two of the diverse topics being researched.

Academics at the Lord Ashcroft International Business School (LAIBS) conduct studies in a variety of areas. The school's research efforts are headed up by Professor Simon Down, who is deputy dean for research and enterprise. He explained: "The business school offers a wide range of research. Our staff base includes a lot of people who are at an early stage in their careers, which really helps give us strength in a lot of different areas."

"Staff follow their own aspirations in terms of what they want to research, but the management team sets some broad directions we want to go in. Key topics for us include entrepreneurship and innovation." 

Down arrived at Anglia Ruskin in 2012 after leaving a role at Newcastle University, and recently returned to the North East to conduct a study of entrepreneurs which evoked one of the country's most famous (fictional) small businessmen. "We looked at a group of entrepreneurial men who got together on Friday nights for an informal business meeting, the way they interacted with each other and how they saw themselves as man an entrepreneurs," he said. "It showed that when they got together a lot of masculine behaviours presented themselves, with talk about cars and money. My angle on it was that it shows that 'Del Boy isn't dead'."

Elsewhere, Down cites research carried out by Dr Nora Koslowski on the impact of gender in business, and a project entitled Biz4Age as examples of LAIBS' work. He said: "Professor Ruth McNally is leading Biz4Age, which is funded by an EU grant and is helping companies become aware of the business potential of the aging population, with areas like assisted living for elderly people growing all the time. It's about showing people how to get access to these markets, and the new networks and ways of working they need to embrace to take advantage of the 'silver economy'."

Down himself knows all about the challenges faced by entrepreneurs, having run his own record label before embarking on a career in academia. His responsibilities at the business school also include maximising external income through activities such as consultancy. He is confident the school, which employs 95 staff, will continue to grow its profile. 

"The quality of research conducted at LAIBS has increased significantly in the last few years," he said. "We want to continue to grow our output in terms of both volume and quality."

This article first appeared in Cambridge News, 29 April 2016