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Lab 7: Entrepreneurship and Social Impact


Lab Lead: Professor Catherine Wang

Email: catherine.wang@brunel.ac.uk

Mission Entrepreneurship is the engine of economic growth, but also increasingly a key driver of social change and value creation. Social impact is at the very heart of social enterprises, and has inspired businesses and organisations to transform their business models in order to address societal and environmental challenges. The increased professionalisation of social enterprises, the rise of impact investment and the prosocial turn in organisations have created an urgent need for business model innovation, and a concomitant need to develop reliable methodologies and frameworks to evaluate social impact. This research lab aims to support businesses, organisations and social enterprises, in particular, that embrace social impact as their core missions.

The lab work covers business model innovation, the scaling up of social impact, and the development of social impact tools and methods to help businesses and organisations to strengthen their fundraising capability and increase their capacity to deliver social change. A core objective of this lab is to provide learning resources to a network of mission-driven businesses and organisations, including social enterprises, through workshops, seminars and networking activities and events. The research activities of this lab cover the entire spectrum of social ventures, and particular attention is given to social enterprises that promote environmental sustainability and support community services, while tackling society’s most pressing challenges.


Catherine Wang is Professor of Entrepreneurship and Strategy at Brunel Business School. Previously, Catherine has also held academic posts at Royal Holloway, University of London, and Oxford Brookes University. Prior to joining academia, she worked in industry in the UK and China, in the areas of small business support and consultancy, and international trade and investment. Her research interests are in the areas of entrepreneurship, innovation and strategic management. Catherine was a grant holder of two ESRC-funded projects. One of these projects studied how UK and Chinese high-tech firms can enhance their entrepreneurial capabilities and improve the success rate of new products, either independently or through international collaboration. The other project examined entrepreneurial orientation and the growth potential of ethnic-minority small firms in London. Through these projects, she has worked with government support agencies, community leaders, the media and industry partners in both the private and public sectors. Catherine is currently on the Editorial Boards of the British Journal of Management, the International Journal of Management Reviews and the International Journal of Entrepreneurial Behaviour & Research. Previously, Catherine was Co-Editor of the European Journal of Innovation Management. She is a Senior Member of the ESRC Peer Review College, and has served as a Scientific Evaluator of a number of international grant panels in the UK, the US, Finland, Portugal, the Netherlands and Kazakhstan. She has also served as a judge of the European Business Awards and Sage Group Innovation Awards.