Hunter traps venture expert

November 2, 2001

An expert in entrepreneurship research has been lured back to Scotland by Strathclyde University's multimillion-pound Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship.

Edinburgh-born Colin Mason, a geography and economic history graduate from Edinburgh University, left a chair in economic geography at Southampton University to take up the post at Strathclyde.

"I stumbled into the entrepreneurship area. I was looking at why some regions are more prosperous than others and saw business creation and entrepreneurship as possible explanations."

Professor Mason, who founded the publication Venture Capital: An International Journal of Entrepreneurial Finance in 1999, said this was a largely under-explored area in the United Kingdom.

"The research in the UK tends to be more small business focused rather than entrepreneurship focused. There is a need for policy debate and policy-making to be based on good information. But the understanding of how new ventures come into being is still pretty limited and fragmentary."

Scotland, through the development agency Scottish Enterprise, was one of the first areas of the world to take a strong interest in business start-ups, he said. "As an academic here, you have greater access to the policy-makers. And there is the feeling that perhaps it is easier to do particularly applied research in Scotland than in England."

The Hunter Centre, which opened last year, is a world leader in teaching entrepreneurship. It was set up with a £5 million donation from Strathclyde graduate Tom Hunter, whose business selling shoes from a van grew into sportswear chain Sports Division.

Jonathan Levie, director of the Hunter Centre, said: "He (Mason) has an exciting research programme lined up that will benefit entrepreneurs and policy-makers in Scotland."

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