Although there are many publications on Entrepreneurship it was felt that this approach of looking at different types of entrepreneurship, at different levels (from youth, university teaching, incubation facilities etc. ) and actually examining the current initiatives on the ground had not been fully ‘scoped out’ in the past. The final published document although released into the public domain, was to be aimed particularly at policy makers on the island.
It was hoped that the report would enable one to see at a glance the level and spread of entrepreneurial activity across the island, what initiatives were in place and where. This would highlight any ‘gaps’ be it in a particular geographical area or an area of entrepreneurial teaching e. g. youth, rural, female. Throughout the study we included where possible, figures showing the levels of participation in the initiatives and subsequent start-up figures resulting from the initiatives. In many cases no start-up figures were provided, as programme providers were reluctant to lay claim to them.
Separate maps were to be used for each area of entrepreneurship (as bulleted on the previous page) with each map accompanied by the lists of initiatives. It was planned that the maps would be backed up by reports, providing extra detailed information, thus giving the maps more meaning. In order to do this the information gathered by us was passed over to a design/publishing company in Belfast who designed the publication and mapped out the information we provided. Conducting The Research Myself and my colleague Eoin Magennis carried out the research for the publication.
Eoin is the information officer in InterTradeIreland and therefore already had a good knowledge of entrepreneurial initiatives in place across the island from dealing with the many enquiries received by InterTradeIreland. Eoin was also able to guide me towards the books, reports, journals etc in the information resource centre that would be of use to me. As InterTradeIreland have quite a high profile and have dealt with public bodies and many other organisations in the past they have gained many contacts, this proved to useful when we were requesting information as most were more that willing to help.
Youth Enterprise: When investigating entrepreneurial teaching for youth on the island, naturally enough the first place we looked was the school curriculum. To obtain the information we needed we contacted the Department for Employment & Learning (DEL) in Northern Ireland and the National Council for Curriculum & Assessment (NCCA) in the Republic of Ireland. Being aware of Young Enterprise Northern Ireland (YENI) as a provider of entrepreneurial teaching, we also contacted them and received information on the various programmes they run.
They were also able to provide information on other initiatives running across the island, such as Northern Ireland Business Education Programme (NIBEP), Junior Achievement, Princes Trust, Shell LiveWire and Sentinus through web searches we also became aware of Bi Gnothacht and Young Entrepreneurship Scheme (YES) another two youth entrepreneurship initiatives. These programme providers were subsequently contacted for information and some sent out resource packs to give us a greater idea of what was involved. In order to obtain the information on courses and programmes for these three maps we used each institutes web site.
We found most of these to be very informative and provide the information we needed in the form of online prospectuses, in some cases the information was not available so I contacted the institutes and requested a prospectus. We then took a note of the courses containing entrepreneurial type modules. Entrepreneurship within Training Agencies: Eoin was aware of the main training agencies on the island, CERT, Fi?? S, Teagasc, Bord Iasaigh Mhara, the Workers Educational Association and the Vocational Education Committees.
When aware of these I was able to search through the agencies web sites and take note of the entrepreneurial courses and programmes. Research into Entrepreneurship: Eoin covered this area as he has contacts within most of the universities on the island, where the majority of the research was being carried out. Eoin spoke to the various staff carrying out research in entrepreneurship, and gathered information on their current interests and any previous entrepreneurship research or publications. He also acquired information on post-graduate students carrying out entrepreneurship research.
Academic/Industry Linkages & Incubation/Enterprise Centres: When investigating the academic/industry linkages on the island, the websites of the various institutions proved to be the best source of information. We captured information on innovation centres, business development centres and the various enterprise platform programmes. Such innovation and enterprise centres were included on the incubation map along with the others incubation/enterprise centres i. e. those, which are run by enterprise agencies in Northern Ireland, city and county enterprise boards in the Republic of Ireland etc.
Eoin was aware that in the Republic of Ireland IDA are also providers of workspace, however as they cater more for Foreign Direct Investment companies we were unsure whether to include them or not. Our research manager though it would be best to include them as they do also cater for indigenous businesses. When the list of incubation units was collected I began to ring each of them to establish how many workspace units each of them contain. Entrepreneurship initiatives within Local Agencies, Economic Development Agencies and Councils:
The information for these three maps was gathered mainly by telephone. The local agencies contact details I obtained from the InterTradeIreland yearbook. In Northern Ireland these were the Local Enterprise Agencies and the Republic of Ireland the City and County Enterprise boards. On contacting the agencies with our request for information, we were provided with details of entrepreneurial courses offered and given two central-points of contact for statistics. In Northern Ireland this was Enterprise Ireland and in the Republic of Ireland, the Department of Enterprise, Trade and Employment.
I contacted these two organisations and they e-mailed me statistics on participants in entrepreneurial courses and subsequent start-up figures, all broken down by geographical area. InterTradeIreland work quite closely with the economic development agencies on the island such as Invest Northern Ireland, Enterprise Ireland, Shannon Development and i?? dari?? s na Gealtachta, obtaining the information we needed was therefore relatively easy. Information was also available in the form of corporate plans and annual reports etc, which we had in the information resource centre.
These provided details of each agency remit and their various initiatives. Again where possible relevant statistics were collected Information was gathered on the local councils by telephone, this mainly consisted of entrepreneurial initiatives provided by each local council and any priority areas. In the Republic of Ireland each county council were required to develop a ten-year economic and social development strategy under the National Development Plan (NDP). By looking at each of these again in the information resource centre we could see the councils intending to address entrepreneurship in the near future.