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Ron Cambridge, GB

London Metropolitan University Course Leader and Senior Lecturer in BA Banking and Finance

What does Sustainable Entrepreneurship mean to you personally?

Surveys found that two thirds to three quarters of Americans dream of starting a business and being their own boss in business. The business world is no stranger to the notion of entrepreneurship which fundamentally aims to achieve business survival and ultimately business success. That in effect is the essence of Sustainability. At the same time, sustainability is also extended to all aspects of the business and all its stakeholders, including its direct and indirect stakeholders, taking a holistic view of all business aspects.

What do you think, how firmly rooted is Sustainable Entrepreneurship already in people's thinking and, above all, in the actions of entrepreneurs?

Sustainable Entrepreneurship is much alive within people’s thinking, especially e-entrepreneurs, even if it does not always discursively refer to them as such. Entrepreneurs naturally are innovative and creative, active and dynamic, driven by value creation. They are business leaders and innovators of new ideas and business processes, whereby, as described by Stevenson and Gumpert in the Harvard Business Review (1985), take nothing and turn it into something. For a true entrepreneur this added value creation goes beyond short term goals, but focus more in the pursuit of sustainability.

In your opinion, to what extent is it possible to reconcile being economically successful with creating added value for society?

In reality the two concepts are indistinguishable. One cannot have a long term economic success without the creation of added value for society.  For any business, it is only by adding value to society, including its customers, its employees, and the environment within which it operates, that it will be able to achieve a sustainable economic success.

Which sectors do you think are doing the most in terms of Sustainable Entrepreneurship, and which have a lot of catching up to do?

It is interesting that private individuals, nongovernmental institutions and organisations which seem to be more concerned about values and the creation of sustainability. Albeit, some UK government’s initiatives, although not always well communicated, are encouraging sustainable actions.

What has to be done to gain more awareness in society and economy?

Rome was not built in a day. Even small successes need celebrating. The results of these actions will speak for themselves. Albeit, it must also be acknowledged that a change within a profit-oriented society may not be an easy task but still very much an achievable one. The more active research and prominent writings about the values of sustainability the more aware society becomes. It is without doubt that the best place to start is with the new generation of university students, graduates, but also young children at school age, who can a have a positive influence on the future of our society and our world. Education is indeed a key.

Politics, industry, society - who should be the driving force for the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

In my view I am tempted to say all of them! Why one may ask, because sustainability relates to us all, both in the business world as well as the private and domestic domains.

How would you judge Great Britain's position in the development of Sustainable Entrepreneurship? Are there any differences between Great Britain and Austria?

Currently, it appears that there is some awareness about entrepreneurship in both countries and sustainability is big business anywhere in the world today, in any case.  Private businesses make the majority of the UK economy and hold the greatest potential for further growth in jobs and output. They are the largest employers worldwide. Ian Stewart, a chief UK economist, notes the importance of entrepreneurs for the UK economic growth, with politician from all parties agreeing that economic recovery cannot be purely led by government or consumer spending, but it is actually small businesses that will lead such growth, and I personally agree with this statement. The UK government operates many tax incentives for entrepreneurs, yet many entrepreneurs explain that taxes, including PAYE, NIC and VAT were the three greatest burdens to their business. The Chancellor of Exchequer in the 2013 UK government’s Budget statements made a provision for a £2,000 credit on Employers’ National Insurance Contributions (NICs), with the aim to assist entrepreneurial businesses with the cost of employing people. Additionally, a 2013/14 report by Deloitte recommended for the UK government to make sure that the Business Bank is ‘entrepreneur-friendly’ and further reduce the cost of taking on staff, including the encouragement of talent recruitment from overseas.

The SEA honors projects that are outstanding examples of Sustainable Entrepreneurship. What persuaded you to personally support this idea?

As parents, we all try to prepare our children to an unknown future world. No one could have predicted the world-wide-web (www) and the impact it will have on our society, some forty or so years ago. Yet we can reflect on the past and try to draw conclusions about the rights and wrongs of our experiences, as guidance to educate our children and create a better future for them. It is therefore important that any outstanding examples of sustainable entrepreneurship is honored and celebrated. Such acknowledgements will not only create awareness and motivate those who are already sustainable entrepreneurial, but will contagiously affect others to do the same.

In what way can each and every one of us contribute towards increasing the relevance of Sustainable Entrepreneurship?

As academics, it is imperative to explore, investigate and write about the topic, as well as incorporate these ideas into our classrooms so that when our students eventually go out into the world of work they would act sustainably at all times.

And lastly, a personal question: Which is the most memorable SE project you've ever heard of - and why?

For me the most SE idea is in fact that of London Metropolitan University. The entrepreneurial aspect of the university is not the creation of a small entrepreneurial business, but it is fundamentally the university’s commitment to widening participation into higher education. Traditionally in the UK, university studies were the privilege of the elite, where individuals from the less privileged or difficult backgrounds forgo university education. This is no longer the case thanks to London Metropolitan University and other UK universities that have followed suit. My University actually prides itself on its widening participation policy, and celebrates its diverse cohort of students, from the less affluent economic backgrounds, from ethnic minorities, in employment and with caring responsibilities.  Such policy encourages non-traditional students to gain university degrees, thus increasing their own human capital and hence that of society as a whole.