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Insights from & for social entrepreneurs: global patterns, local realities

  • Aston University Aston Business School, Conference Aston Birmingham, B4 7ET United Kingdom (map)

Aston University welcomes you to the International SEFORIS Conference in the heart of Birmingham, December 9th, 2016.

A conversation with social entrepreneurs and international academics conducting the worldwide largest panel study of social enterprises. 

The aim of this conference is to identify and share best practices of how social enterprises can address challenges of governance, financing, innovation and scaling - as identified by both social entrepreneurs and our rigorous international and large-scale research on social enterprises across 10 countries. The conference is set up around input for and from social entrepreneurs. It offers insights how social entrepreneurs working in different contexts have dealt with challenges of governing, financing, innovating and delivering impact; whilst stimulating peer-learning and discussions among social entrepreneurs. The conference is the first to share insights from the world’s largest panel study of social ventures across 8 European countries including the UK, Germany, Spain, Sweden, Portugal, Hungary, Romania, Belgium as well as Russia and China. We will also share insights from our unique in-depth case research conducted over the past 3 years in these countries. The conference is the first organised by the SEFORÏS consortium.

Who should attend?

  • Social entrepreneurs and social enterprise support organisations.

We want to initiate a conversation between social entrepreneurs, support organizations and academics. Thus the conference includes both brief academic inputs and insights from social entrepreneurs. It will provide a platform for plenary and round-table discussions and networking.

  • Policy makers, local government representatives and academics.

Conference programme

Morning Programme


Prof. Johanna Mair

Prof. Johanna Mair



8:45-9:15 Registration, Coffee & Pastry

9:15-9:40 Welcome - Introduction to SEFORÏS
Prof. Ute Stephan, Aston University, UK

9:40-10:40 Keynote by Professor Johanna Mair
Hertie School of Governance, Germany & Stanford University, USA
"Innovation and Scaling - How effective Social Entrepreneurs create Impact"

Drawing on a decade of research we transcend widely held misconceptions, getting to the core of what a sound impact strategy entails in the social sector. We reveal an overlooked nexus between investments that might not pan out (innovation) and expansion based on existing strengths (scaling). In the process, it becomes clear that managing this tension is a difficult balancing act that fundamentally defines an organization and its impact. We examine innovation pathologies that can derail organizations by thwarting their efforts to juggle these imperatives.

10:40-10:50 Coffee break

10:50-12:00 International social entrepreneur panel:
"Key Challenges for Social Enterprises"

  1. Mr Robin Lu, First Respond 第一反应® (China) 
  2. Mr Miguel Neiva, ColorADD (Portugal) 
  3. Ms Natassia Fry, Kompis Sverige (Sweden) 
  4. Mr Ramazan Salman, Ethno-Medical Centre (Germany)
  5. Ms Noémi Ambrus Kiry, Blue Bird Foundation (Hungary)
  6. Ms. Céline Gagnon, The Funding Network (UK)

Moderator: Dr. Tomislav Rimac, LUISS, Italy



Afternoon programme


13:00-14:30 Challenges Part 1: Governance and Finance

13:00-13:15 Governance in Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORÏS
Dr. Miriam Wolf, Hertie School of Governance, Germany

Social Entrepreneur Reflection
Dr. Simon Slater, Sustainability West Midlands, UK

13:25-13:40 Financing Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORÏS
Assoc. Prof. Chloé Le Coq, Stockholm School of Economics (SITE), Sweden

Social Entrepreneur Reflection
Ms. Hannah Stranger-Jones, UnLtd, UK

13:50-14:30 Moderated roundtables Sharing Best Practices on Governance and Finance

Coffee break

14:45-16:15 Challenges Part 2: Innovating and Scaling Impact 

14:45-15:00 Innovation in Social Enterprises and Social Innovation. Insights from SEFORЇS
Dr. Alain Daou, KU Leuven, Belgium

Social Entrepreneur Reflection
Mr. Indi Deol, Aidem Digital, UK

15:10-15:25 Scaling Impact in Social Enterprises. Insights from SEFORЇS
Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, HEC Paris, France & Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden

Social Entrepreneur Reflection
Mr. Charles Rapson, School for Social Entrepreneurs Midlands, UK

15:35-16:15 Moderated roundtables Sharing Best Practices on Innovation and Scaling 

Coffee break

16:30-17:30 Cross-country Reflections

16:30-16:45 Social Enterprises across Countries: More Similar than Different? Insights from SEFORЇS  
Dr. Emma Folmer, Aston University, UK 

16:45-16:55 Policy Maker Reflection “The Importance of Social Enterprises for Europe” 
Ms. Ann Branch, European Commission, DG for Employment, Social Affairs and Inclusion

17:00-17:30 Closing Panel “Insight and Learnings Across Countries” 
Moderator Dr. Marieke Huysentruyt, HEC Paris, France & Stockholm School of Economics, Sweden



Drinks & networking

Practical details

LocationAston University, Aston Business SchoolConference Aston, Birmingham, B4 7ET

How to find us. Please pay special attention to the walking route to the university campus from the Birmingham New Street station when traveling by train. The business school is located in front of the multistory main building of the university and next to the library. In case you are travelling by car, we recommend parking at the Millennium Point Car Park near the campus.

Accommodation: a number of rooms for overnight accommodation have been reserved at Conference Aston until 29-10-2016. Please see the booking instructions and quote the code SEFORIS16 in the online system. The rooms are distributed on a first come, first served basis. 

We have allocated sufficient number of spacious rooms for the off-campus lodging in the Holiday Inn Express Birmingham Snow Hill hotel. Please book until 07-11-2016 to ensure the best rate (GBP 83) and availability by contacting the reservations agent Katie Mansell via email or phone +44(0)121 647 3999. The hotel is a 15-minute walk from the conference venue.

Please note: The conference is funded by the European Commission and free of charge to participants. We have only limited spaces available and ask that you let us know if you can no longer attend so that we can offer your place to another participant. We understand that life can thwart the participation at an interesting conference! Thank you very much.

Any questions? Contact us at