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Home > Life Stories > The Knowledge Entrepreneur - UK - 1

The Knowledge Entrepreneur - UK - 1

As with many of the entrepreneurs within ELIE the initial reason for Dr A leaving her home country of Greece was to improve her education by studying for a PhD. In the case of Dr A her PhD was in a very new area of research; linguistic-based computer voice recognition, and the UK university where she was to study was the acknowledged world centre in the type of computing that Dr A was engaged in at that point in her career. Dr A is fluent in Greek, English, French and German (and has some proficiency in Portuguese), with her first degree being in English and Linguistics, and she has worked in academic settings in the UK and in Germany.

She had an ambition to use her skills in the development of voice user interfaces as a route into entrepreneurship for many years. She initially tried to set up a company in Germany, specialising in applications of voice recognition software, but found it very difficult to make headway. In part she feels this was due to there being less recognition of the potential of such software in supporting business functionality at that time, but also in part that in Germany technologies were seen as the remit of larger organisation rather than smaller companies. As with the case of Mr C, that the business was based on knowledge, using intellectual capital, it reduced greatly the need to take risks, she also used the term 'spare room businesses'. Although she was not successful in starting a business in Germany when Dr A moved back to the UK she felt she had learned a number of useful lessons about doing business across Europe and was determined to try again.

Within the UK she feels the climate is very encouraging of entrepreneurs; there is no requirement to register your business or to have capital; all that had to be done was to telephone the local Inland Revenue and then start up. Dr A is reliant on the Internet and Internet-based networks for her business. Indeed, she credits Linkedin as a significant asset to her capacity to generate business and useful networks. This in turn generates the question of the potential for developing other businesses without boundaries as technology develops. Early adopters of new technology, such as Dr A, have seen tremendous advances in the ways in which communications technologies have advanced business practices. Dr A sees both physical and virtual networking skills as essential to successful entrepreneurship.

As with all our other entrepreneurs she sees language skills as the absolute essential to success and suspects that developing entrepreneurial mobility amongst English young people will be more difficult because they consistently lack proficiency in languages, even where they have achieved a GCSE or A level pass in a modern foreign language. Dr A also notes that there were many students who had sufficient specialist knowledge and capacity for hard work to take on the challenges of entrepreneurship but she found that it was unusual for a student to consider entrepreneurship as an option, and where entrepreneurship was considered it was in a relatively restricted (and often quite full) area, such as web design and management, search engine optimisation, employment was what they expected, and the careers advice they were given tended to reinforce this idea. It is also currently easier for graduates in technological specialism to get work for the many large employers such as Google than it is for graduates in other less in demand areas of specialism and that also discourages entrepreneurship to an extent. 

Education and Culture Lifelong Learning Programme
© 2011 ELIE Project
This project has been funded with support from the European Commission. This publication [communication] reflects the views only of the author, and the Commission cannot be held responsible for any use which may be made of the information contained therein.