One of my aims when I started my PhD in October 2017 was to write about it through semi-regular blogs. I recognise that I’m in a privileged position where I am essentially paid (a small but very welcome bursary) to read and think. I thought it might be interesting to share some of the insights from this fascinating academic literature (a lot of which I wonder whether is ever read by anyone in the real world). …


It’s a well known fact that all of us, no matter how open-minded we are, show a degree of unconscious bias. This plays out in the friends we make, the events we go to, the cultural activities we partake in. In the tech sector, we see it play out in a number of ways. Let’s take VC investment as an example. According to a 2017 report by the British Business Bank, for every £1 of venture capital (VC) investment in the UK, all-female founder teams get less than 1p, all-male founder teams get 89p, and mixed-gender teams 10p. There are…


Kisha working with the students to make solar-powered cars

In my previous blog post I described the challenge set by Tracey and how my rumination on the topic brought me to the decision to design a programme that would teach Design Thinking. Tracey paired me up with her colleague at Barnsley Metropolitan Borough Council, Helen Valentine (Young People, Enterprise, and Skills), who would play a vital role in liaising with the schools and in sense-checking the materials and content that I produced. …


Inspiring the next generation in tech & digital

In mid-July, I wrapped up delivery on my latest freelance project, which was to design a programme to inspire 11–14 year olds to pursue a career in tech. Dreamt up by the inimitable Tracey Johnson at Barnsley Digital Media Centre, this was a pilot project under the TechTown banner to try out some ideas. I was given a small budget for some external speakers and resources, and the creative freedom to approach the project how I saw fit.

Getting creative with a 3D printing pen

A bit of background…

The URBACT TechTown programme brings together 11 towns and small-to-medium cities across Europe for knowledge sharing and practical action to encourage digital…


Supporting ambitious entrepreneurs in Sheffield

We’ve got a good thing going on in Sheffield

I’ve written before about the entrepreneur ecosystem here: about how friendly everyone is and how introductions are readily made. My friend Elizabeth Shassere echoes this, writing about her first forays into entrepreneurship in this city. I was commissioned in January to write a report on the Creative Digital scene in Sheffield (soon to be launched!) and the overwhelming response from interviewees was that the digital community here is open, welcoming, and keen to collaborate.

So far, so warm-and-fuzzy. Aside from the general good feeling and sense of camaraderie, we do have significant tech success stories here, including global companies like…


Contributing to a vibrant tech ecosystem in my home town

Next weekend (2nd — 4th June) marks the 10th edition of Startup Weekend Sheffield, and I am delighted to be returning as a coach & mentor for the weekend.

SW Sheffield participants, making friends and making plans

Back in 2013, Samantha Deakin Hill had the ambition to bring the global phenomenon of TechStars’ Startup Weekend to Sheffield, and was able to get the support of her employers, the University of Sheffield Enterprise (USE) department.


… here’s how 11 European clusters tackled this challenge

My first gig as a freelancer saw me fly to Estonia for a couple of days in May. I was there to lead a workshop on Ecosystem Development for participants in “TechTown”, a two-year URBACT project funded by the EU.

A view of Tallinn, the capital city of Estonia

URBACT programmes bring together towns and cities from across Europe to work together, share best practice, and develop solutions for urban challenges. TechTown, as you might guess, is a project focussed on digital tech. The representatives from the eleven European towns/cities taking part are all from the public sector, usually with a focus on urban and economic development. …


Day Five… AKA our last full day in Gaza! In the morning we headed to the Gaza Sky Geeks office, where the GSG team work from, alongside the startups in their programmes. They have only been in this new office a few months, but they’ve very much made it their own — the walls are filled with pen drawings, photography, and artwork, all from the people who use the space. …


This morning, Sabine, Elizabeth and I were invited to a Gaza Geekettes meetup. …


This morning it was my turn to be the teacher. I had an hour long slot to talk about Customer Development. Moving away from the buzzwords, this basically means finding people who will buy your product, ideally before you even launch. It’s about getting feedback on people’s habits, i.e. how are they already solving the problem? And is this even a real problem for them? It’s about avoiding empty compliments (“I love it!”) and drilling down into whether or not people will actually show you a real commitment to buy or use your product.

Basel: interpreter / MC / compere / facilitator / community leader / innovator… is there anything he doesn’t do?

I am very fortunate in that…

Laura IH Bennett

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