Award Ceremony Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research 2018

Olav Sorenson, Professor Yale School of Managenment, received this year’s Global Award for Entrepreneurship Research at a prize ceremony at Grand Hôtel in Stockholm May 14th. The prize consisting of 100,000 euros was awarded by Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Minister of Higher Education and Research.

View the web broadcast of the price lecture

Helene Hellmark Knutsson

Helene Hellmark Knutsson said she is proud that Sweden is a knowledge society and that the government will continue to invest in knowledge and innovation.

-Innovations are necessary for solving the social and environmental issues of the future, said Hellmark Knutsson.

Olav Sorenson is awarded the prize for having increased understanding of how entrepreneurship is linked to social networks and to the economically-geographic environment in which the entrepreneur works. His research underscores the importance of social networks. Money, ideas, information, influences and knowledge are not freely available to all individuals and organizations, but communicated via social networks. Networking that is often connected locally. This means that successful entrepreneurship often occurs in geographical clusters within social networking between entrepreneurs, venture capitalists and other actors. Olav Sorenson and Helene Hellmark Knutsson.

-Nobody begins researching to win such a prize, but it encourages researchers and draws attention to the research area, said Sorenson when he received the award.

In his subsequent lecture, Sorenson focused on the importance of social networks for the entrepreneur’s ability to succeed. His interest in entrepreneurship was raised during the academic years at Stanford University in the mid 90’s during the golden age of the IT boom. He realized that social networks are important for entrepreneurship in several ways. Partly to assess their own aptitude and potential as an entrepreneur, partly as a way to acquire the necessary resources and finally to create the conditions for the life one wants to live with friends, family and amenities in their surroundings.

Having entrepreneurs in their immediate vicinity increases the chances of becoming an entrepreneur, said Sorenson. They act as role models and reduce the pressure from the social environment.

Olav Sorenson

-The more people feel you know that are entrepreneurs, the lower the social costs.

The ability to raise capital and resources also work according to a proximity principle. If an investor has personal knowledge of an entrepreneur, the likelihood increases that they will finance the idea.

-Risk capital funding is a local business. Risk capitalists tend to finance companies in their direct geographical proximity, said Sorenson.

In his studies, Sorenson discovered that entrepreneurs in many cases not only base their decisions on purely economically rational conclusions. Social contacts are of great importance to where we settle and choose to start and run companies. Perhaps even more than economic considerations.

– Entrepreneurs tend to succeed better when starting businesses in their vicinity. Where they lived for a long time and feel at home, he said.

This ties social networks to geography and to cluster formation. Sorenson pointed to the shoe industry in the United States as an example. The shoe industry is located in virtually the same places today as 70 years ago. But there are new companies today. The same development can be seen in the biotech industry on the west coast of United States.

It is a policy maker’s dream to build clusters through efforts, but Sorenson raised a warning finger to try to imitate Silicon valley and similar areas. Olav Sorenson

-There is a risk of being too centered around a single industry.

Detroit was the center of the car industry in the United States for many years. When the automobile industry later collapses, it pulled down the entire city, said Sorenson.

Hellmark Knutsson nevertheless meant that Sweden, with its prerequisites, is in need of cluster effects.

-We need clusters. We are a big country with few people.
If you ask Swedish companies about the most important factor about where a business should be located, they respond in close proximity to students. We need an equal school across the country and we need strong universities, said Hellmark Knutsson.

Karin Thorburn, Magnus Henrekson, Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Olav Sorenson, Johan Eklund

Magnus Henrekson, CEO of IFN, meant that there is a lot of randomness involved in cluster formation.

-We must consider our conditions in Sweden. We can not have a university like Stanford in every small city in, he said.

Karin Thorburn, Research Chair Professor of Finance at Norwegian School of Economics, asked whether crowdfunding is a way to circumvent the need for a social network in its vicinity.

-While crowdfunding has proven to be dependent on social networking at startup. Often, they are the closest who are the first investors and can lift it, said Sorenson.

On a final question about the most important policy area for the future, Sorenson meant that there is no universal solution.

-Difficult! It depends so much on the circumstances in a particular area, if there is a lack of eg. capital or labor. Prerequisites that often differ, said Sorensson.

David R. Sjödin, Helene Hellmark Knutsson, Olav Sorenson, Karin Thorburn, Johan Eklund, Magnus Henrekson

Young researcher Award

This year’s Young Researcher Award was awarded by Swedish Entrepreneurship Forum to David R Sjödin, economist at Luleå University of Technology, LTU. He received the prize of 150,000 SEK during the ceremony at the Grand Hôtel.

Sjödin is described as a highly productive researcher with a clear profile focused on entrepreneurship within established companies. He got his PhD in 2013 at Luleå University of Technology, LTU, with the dissertation Managing Joint Development of Process Technologies: Empirical studies of interorganizational cooperation within the process industries. In his dissertation he focused on collaboration between process industry companies and their equipment suppliers, thus raising a critical issue in strengthening the competitiveness of companies such as LKAB, SSAB and Boliden. Helene Hellmark Knutsson, David R. Sjödin, Karin Thorburn

Sjödin now focuses on digital industry – the value of digitization of traditional industry.

Sweden has come a long way, but we need more knowledge. We are a little slow, said Sjödin.

– Entrepreneurship is necessary for Sweden’s development. But I also want to lift intrapreneurship. People who change companies from the inside.