A new generation of entrepreneurs could be found thanks to a pioneering new research project led by Lancaster University.
The Eliemental Project aims to identify invisible and community barriers that are potentially putting off large numbers of people from setting themselves up in business.
Small businesses are often cited as the engine room of the economy and future growth is vitally dependent on entrepreneurs willing to take risks to start new businesses that will in turn create new jobs.
Barriers that could put off would-be entrepreneurs include whether people have the support of their family and friends to bounce ideas off; and people who have the necessary skills being unsure of how to use them to set up a business. There are also people who have problems with associating themselves as being entrepreneurial despite having a high interest in entrepreneurship.
Other issues include lacking soft skills and struggling to recognise opportunities, as well as people being put off by the examples of entrepreneurship they see on television programmes such as Dragons’ Den or the Apprentice.
Dr Carolyn Downs, of the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), said: “This is a large-scale research project that aims to unlock the invisible barriers that are preventing more people from setting up new businesses and providing additional growth to the economy both here in the UK, and in other European countries.
“Eliemental has the potential to make a real difference to people’s lives as well as providing opportunities for the creation of additional jobs for others.”
The project will look at specific communities in areas in North West England – Morecambe and Tameside, near Manchester – and Essex, as well as countries in Europe such as Romania, Greece and Poland.
An innovative feature of the project is working with community-based volunteer researchers from target groups as these are the people who are best-placed to develop an understanding of barriers to enterprise in their local community.
Dr Downs said: “We are working to understand the needs of groups that are hugely under-represented in SME start-ups, including Roma groups in Romania and Poland, Somali communities in Greece, Bengali women in Manchester, young, socially excluded black and ethnic minority men and traveller communities in Essex.
"We are also working in the West End of Morecambe with three specific groups: young unemployed people, older women who have lost their jobs and who have perhaps worked in the caring professions or had family responsibilities, and disabled people who typically experience considerable barriers to work."
The three-year research project will lead to the creation of a formal training scheme and qualification, as well as a team of mentors, to equip would-be entrepreneurs to get on the path to creating their own businesses.
The Eliemental Project is being delivered through a partnership of the Lancaster University Management School, The University of Lodz, University of Targoviste, Tameside College, SEERC, The Ergani Centre, The Business Group and BTEG.
For more information on the Eliemental Project visit www.eliemental.org
For more information about the Lancaster University Management School visit www.lums.lancs.ac.uk