Here Jonatan outlines his vision for the world-class Institute.
As Professor of Strategy, Innovation and Entrepreneurship here at Alliance Manchester Business School, my research interests focus on four main areas. These are corporate sustainability, business model innovation and the disruptive effect of green technologies and new innovation platforms on established industries, such as energy and mobility.
Sustainability is, however, just one of the many ‘grand challenges’ that the world faces today. One could name many others including the impact and development of Artificial Intelligence (AI) and machine learning; emerging technologies, such as nanotechnology and synthetic biology; the effect of digitisation on employment and skills in services and manufacturing; or the rapid emergence of entrepreneurial ecosystems and new sources of innovation around start-ups.
These are precisely the kinds of topics that our world-class academics here at MIOIR have been researching and teaching for many years, and I am truly honoured to have been appointed the new Director of such as distinguished Institute, not just here in the UK but across the world.
However, as an Institute we cannot afford to stand still, not least because these huge changes in society around us are happening so quickly. I see the impact of this every day when I am teaching my students. They are hungry to embrace the opportunities that stem from these changes, keen to set up their own ventures on the back of trends such as the sharing economy, and realise that technology has – in some respects – made it easier for them to follow their dreams.
That’s why one of the first things I will be doing in my new role is to scope exactly what our distinguished academics are currently working on and look at what areas they can potentially focus on more in the future as we respond to these challenges.
Such an exercise will further ensure that our research outputs continue to achieve the highest possible grading. As all of us take more collective responsibility and help each other even more, we can recognise where excellence is. Working together we can ensure that we not only publish our research in the best possible outlets but also have impact with our research by addressing issues relevant to society.
By extension this is also an excellent opportunity for us collectively to look at where we want to go as an Institute, and look in-depth at how we can work even closer together and integrate our various activities.
Indeed, I would argue that such closer collaboration – not just between our own staff but also with other academics across the Business School and the wider University – is essential in order for us to respond to these global challenges. Across the world we are already seeing a convergence of academic interests from different disciplines coming together to tackle these challenges.
As we tackle them, so greater collaboration and engagement with business becomes more critical too. As such, another of my key priorities will be to further develop our business engagement agenda and use our research to have much wider conversations.
The Institute already has an excellent track record of working with – and influencing – policymakers. That will remain critical, but we are also home to many academics with a very strong management as well as policy perspective, and one of my jobs is to ensure that they also play an equally significant and powerful role working with business.
Many of these challenges are also central to industrial strategy policy, especially here in the UK, and I believe the Institute also has a really strong and continued role to play, in particular here in the North West and across Greater Manchester as it seeks the further devolution of powers.
Which brings us neatly to what Manchester means to me. Although I have only physically been at Alliance MBS since 2015, I have known the city since my youth as a city of innovation and creativity. I’ve always loved the great music Manchester has produced over the years. As the Institute embarks on a new chapter, what better platform could we ask for in terms of harnessing our research skills for the greater good of this region and beyond.