When Entrepreneurial Ecosystem Meets Urban Studies: My First Overseas’ Research Experience

New to the research community, one of the main questions I brought to this Short Term Scientific Mission (STSM) is how research and innovation can be embedded within the city and conceptualized as an entrepreneurial ecosystem. With a first degree in Mathematics, Operational Research, Statistics and Economics and a Master in Innovation and Entrepreneurship, I come with a very interdisciplinary background and was excited to see where this STSM can take me to. While the full scientific report documented details of this trip, here I’d like to share my first overseas’ research experience from a personal development perspective.

For me personally, there are three main takeaways from this STSM trip from quite different perspectives. First of all, it was grateful to be able to meet up with people in the same research field and experience the culture differences between Spain and UK. Entrepreneurship is a relatively small research community and even fewer focused on entrepreneurial ecosystem studies. Thus, being able to meet researchers with same research interest and share resources and findings is a great experience. The hosts have great knowledge in the entrepreneurship environment in Spain which enables us to open the discussions on the value and potential of conducting comparison studies.

Secondly, this STSM trip enhanced and broadened my understanding on my PhD project as well as the interdisciplinary research it could potentially involve. Having had the interdisciplinary discussions on entrepreneurship ecosystem indicators, smart cities and city metrics among researchers in urban studies, entrepreneurship and city metrics, I gained wider understanding and became more aware of the potential obstacles and scale of this particular topic. This reinforced knowledge and understanding in turn triggered the re-evaluation of my current research plans and methodology in achieving the original objective of developing ecosystem measurement metrics. On the other hand, interdisciplinary challenges were also encountered mainly in form of finding a potential common ground among all researchers from different disciplines. This challenge led to a longer term objective of developing indicators of entrepreneurship ecosystems and city metrics. However, it was also agreed that an additional researcher in this field may be needed to take the lead in order to make substantial contributions.

Lastly, the opportunities arose during discussions on potential research related collaborations acted as an introduction for me, a new and young researcher, to the research community and activities such as the organisation of joint research publications, funding bids or workshops. As a PhD researcher, it was a great experience to get involved in those activities which will be a significant part of later research career.

All in all, I would describe this STSM full of excitement and new experiences from various aspects of research activities. It not only opened discussions on interdisciplinary research on urban studies and entrepreneurship ecosystems but also provide a personalised research exchange experience.

Author: Zimu Xu