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Accelerating SME Internationalization: Academic, Policy and Practitioner Perspective

Venue: Birkbeck Main Building, MAL B04, Malet Street, Bloomsbury London WC1E 7HX

This event has ended.

Small and medium enterprises (SMEs) are important for economic sustainability, not only due to their cumulative capacity to generate employment, but also due to their innovativeness and agility. With Globalization, SMEs not only have increased opportunities to internationalize but also to develop their innovative and dynamic capabilities and use them effectively to compete against other companies in the global market. However, an annual survey conducted by the Department for International Trade, UK, reported that 66% of exporters have encountered significant barriers to their overseas development.

Supporting SME internationalization has been proposed as a main strategy to un-lock UK’s productivity challenge. It has been estimated that up to 110,000 SMEs could introduce and/or increase their internationalization activities, which will add an extra £1.15 billion in Gross Value Added (GVA) to the UK economy, within the first year, in the form of new and higher value jobs (Enterprise Research Centre 2015). As SME internationalization is quite complex due to these firms facing several barriers for internationalization, there is a greater scope for accelerators and similar organizations that generally provide workspace, mentoring, coaching, funding and other services, such as opportunities for networking and learning, to support and accelerate internationalization process of SMEs.

It is in this context, we organize this workshop to share our understanding of how to accelerate SME internationalization. We discuss this from academic, policy and practitioner perspective and intend to develop a working group to take this conversation forward.

The event is free and open to public 


12:00- 12:45 - Lunch

12:45 – 13:00- Welcome and Introduction – Dr Marion Fenz Co-director, Centre for Innovation Management Research

13:00- 14:00 Academic Perspective: Accelerators in US and UK

What can we learn from accelerators in Silicon Valley? Prof Tomasz Mroczkowski, Professor and Chair, Department of International Business, Kogod School of Business, American University

The effect of services provided by accelerators on SME performance Dr Muthu de Silva, Senior Lecturer, Birkbeck, University of London and Dr Ainurul Rosli, Reader, Brunel Business School, University of Brunel

14:00- 14:20 Break

14:20- 15:20 Policy Perspective: Accelerating SME Internationalization

Chair: Professor Jeremy Howells, Kent Business School, University of Kent


Dr Sivasegaram Manimaaran, Head of European and Global Portfolio, InnovateUK

Rebecca Goulding, SME Manager, Connected Places Catapult

Huw Watkins, Head the Asia Policy team, Intellectual Property Office

15:20- 15:40 Break

15:40- 16:40 Practitioner Perspective: Accelerating SME Internationalization

Chair: Dr Benjamin Reid, Head of International Innovation - Development Programmes at Nesta


Asif Faruque, Head of Content, Level39 Accelerator

Alex Packham, Founder & CEO, ContentCal

Nektarios Liolios, Nektarios Liolios, Co-founder Startupbootcamp FinTech

16:40- 17:00 Conclusions/Final remarks

Sponsors: Birkbeck, University of London; Brunel Business School, Brunel University London; Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE)

Funding: The event is free to attend. If you are an early career researcher (i.e. those who have completed their PhDs within last three years) and wish to cover travel expenses, please contact Dr Muthu De Silva ( 

Contact name:

Contact phone: 07796506886

  • Dr Muthu De Silva -

    Muthu De Silva is an Associate Professor of Entrepreneurship and Innovation at Birkbeck, University of London, UK. Her research investigates strategies and practices adopted, opportunities pursued, and organizational forms designed in relation to co-creation, intermediation and university-business interactions. She has published in Research Policy, Journal of Organizational Behaviour, International Small Business Journal, Technological Forecasting and Social Change, R&D Management Journal and Studies in Higher Education and received best paper awards in Innovation by the BAM Conference in 2015 and 2016. She has secured major grants from Innovate UK, Intellectual Property Office, EU and British Academy/Leverhulme, and British Academy of Management. She is a fellow of Royal Society for the encouragement of Arts, Manufactures and Commerce.

  • Dr Ainurul Rosli -

    Ainurul Rosli is a Reader in Enterprise and Entrepreneurship and also the Director of Business Engagement at the Brunel Business School. As an Entrepreneurship Team Coach and Entrepreneurial Mindset Practitioner (EMP), she believes in the importance of university-industry-community interaction and research with impact, which drives forward businesses and societal transformation. She specialised in entrepreneurship, inter-firm collaboration, innovation strategy and social impact. This enables her to be part of fantastic organisations and projects that embrace collaboration and co-creation to support their innovative community engagement initiatives. Her research on engaged scholarship, co-creation and impact measurement enabled her to design a clear measurement of impact for knowledge exchange, enterprise and outreach engagement.

  • Angelina Cannizzaro -

    Angelina Cannizzaro is the Deputy Director: Business Finance, International and Insight (SMEs), Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

  • Nektarios Liolios -

    Nektarios Liolios is co-founder and former CEO of Startupbootcamp FinTech. Working to address the relationship between corporates and startups, Nektarios worked closely with industry participants and investors for the Startupbootcamp FinTech and Rainmaking programs in London, New York, Singapore, Mexico City, Dubai, Amsterdam, Melbourne and Cairo. He is also co-founder and partner of Rainmaking, the global cooperative of entrepreneurs, leading innovation programs across the financial services sector. Prior to Startupbootcamp, he led SWIFT’s Innotribe Startup Challenge, the first global fintech startup competition, facilitating interaction between startups and financial institutions. Driven by entrepreneurship, collaboration and the desire to change the industry, Nektarios is a global nomad, travel geek, and sneaker freaker.

  • Alex Packham -

    Alex Packham is the Founder and CEO of ContentCal, a new, fast growing content management software business targeted at SMEs. ContentCal has grown rapidly over the last 2 years, is fast approaching 1,000 customers and has over 20,000 users globally. Alex has worked in the social media and content marketing  industry for 10 years and the business has raised £2.6M to date.                                                                              

  • Asif Faruque -

    Asif Faruque, Head of Content, is responsible for brand, messaging and communications at Level39, the world’s most connected technology community. Asif began a journalism career in 2010 – covering local news and politics for a south London publication before moving into pharmaceuticals and transport news for a leading communications agency. Prior to joining Level39, Asif covered the fintech and innovation beat of a global financial news service, producing video content and interviewing leaders of the world’s biggest financial institutions. Asif holds a Bachelor’s degree in English Literature from the University of Southampton and is qualified by the National Council for the Training of Journalists.

  • Prof Tomasz Mroczkowski -

    Tomasz Mroczkowski is Professor and Chair, Department of International Business, Kogod School of Business, American University. He teaches International Business and Management in Emerging Markets courses in the MBA program. His current research interests include knowledge management, international outsourcing and globalization of R&D and comparative innovation policies in emerging economies. Professor Mroczkowski has lectured at universities in Japan and Europe, including the National Defense Academy of Japan, Copenhagen Business School, University of Cambridge, University of Paris-Sorbonne and the ESCP-EAP in Paris. He has conducted executive development seminars for leading American and European companies, such as GM, AT&T, Union Carbide, GE and Polaroid. Mroczkowski has been a recipient of a number of grants, including awards from the Andrew A. Mellon Foundation, the US Agency for International Development and the German Marshall Fund of the US.

  • Huw Watkins -

    Huw Watkins is the Head the Asia Policy team, Intellectual Property Office.  Huw joined the IPO 7 years ago, and has been involved (as Head of Intelligence) in developing the capability and capacity of the IPO Intelligence Hub to support the UK’s Serious & Organised Crime Strategy both in the UK and overseas. His work with international partners and knowledge of the worldwide trade in counterfeits has led him to be invited to join the Global Initiative on Transnational Organised Crime ( as a subject matter expert. He is also a member of the management committee for an international project being developed by the Syracusa Institute. Huw’s knowledge and experience in trade-based money laundering have been of use to UK authorities considering how to deal with this threat. Huw has recently moved to head the IPO Asia Policy team covering most of the continent. His team includes attaché colleagues based in India and Singapore. The IPO are actively supporting UK businesses wishing to trade in Asia with guidance on protecting and maximising their intellectual property in conjunction with other government departments.

  • Dr Sivasegaram Manimaaran -

    Sivasegaram Manimaaran is the Head of European and Global Portfolio, InnovateUK.  Mani joined Innovate UK in December 2013 and now leads on its work in Europe (incl. EU programmes) alongside wider international strategy. Prior to this, he held a number of science and innovation policy roles at the European Commission, and at the Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy where he has been involved in the development of Government strategies and commissioned reviews including Hermann Hauser's review that led to the formation of the Catapult centres in the UK.