Social Entrepreneurship: (2022-2024)

Researchers: Dr Isobel Cunningham, Lecturer, Faculty of Business.

Funding: Strand 1 funding of €114,200 from Shared Island.

Understanding the Social Entrepreneurship Ecosystem on the Island of Ireland – Lessons for Education, Practice and Policy

Project Aim

This research brings together individual researchers from ATU and Ulster University to examine, investigate and influence this social enterprise landscape and phenomenon. This research aims to better understand social enterprises and their ecosystem across the island of Ireland. Indeed, anecdotal evidence indicates that this sector has bespoke needs, and this proposal aims to better understand these barriers, motivators and challenges associated with social enterprises development and growth. Furthermore, it aims to explore social entrepreneurs and their personal and professional profiles and skills to inform and shape social entrepreneurship development and education, policy enhancement and creation and inspire and nurture the social enterprise sector, along with key stakeholders and actors, to deliver positive future returns through, for example, start-ups and business growth.

Specifically, this research will address the following objectives:

  • Explore and examine the social enterprise sector across the Island of Ireland.
  • Construct a clear understanding of the factors that motivate, inspire, challenge and discourage along with priorities for development and growth.
  • Review and explore social entrepreneurs and their profiles, skills and role in shaping the social enterprise sector in Ireland.
  • Use research-informed learning to shape policy, interventions and practice in this sector across the island of Ireland.
  • Identify and synthesise research-led approaches to inspire social enterprise start-up and growth across Ireland