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Unlocking the Potential of Disabled Entrepreneurs (CIMR debates and workshops in public policy)

Venue: Online

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Join the Centre for Innovation Management Research on Wednesday 22 September for a talk on the topic of 'Unlocking the Potential of Disabled Entrepreneurs' part of the CIMR Debates and Workshops in Public Policy series.

  • Speakers: David Walsh, Dr Eva Kašperová, Beth Kume-Holland, David Halabisky
  • Chair: Jacqueline Winstanley


More people from underserved communities, the likes of persons with disabilities, are turning to self-employment due to particular barriers to their job market participation and additional challenges posed by economic and social trends including the effects of the pandemic. The disability employment gap has increased by 0.7 percentage points in 2020, meaning that the employment rate of disabled people is 28.8 percent lower than that of people who are not disabled (Powell, 2021). Other challenges highlighted in the literature included gender gap, cost of doing business, and the likelihood to find seed fund as common dominant factors reported on the issue of inclusion (Rolle, Kisato, Rock, & Winstanley, 2020).

Additionally, high on the current national policy agenda are inclusivity and diversity challenges in business innovation leading to the creation of an All Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Entrepreneurship. A report published by Innovate UK in 2019 identified the barriers, challenges, opportunities and support needs for minority ethnic groups and disabled people to participate in business innovation (Vorley, Lawton Smith, Coogan, Owalla, Wing, 2019). The government’s 'levelling up agenda' seeks to level up research and development so that it benefits every corner of the UK. Now is an opportune time for clear policy rationale for increasing diversity and inclusion in innovation-led initiatives at the regional level to ensure that the levelling up agenda is inclusive in practice.

Through this event, our aim is to challenge the audience’s understanding on the self-employment of disabled people, and to call the policymakers, practitioners and academics to go beyond what is currently available for supporting disabled entrepreneurs and innovators, and tackling the issues affecting their successful participation in the ecosystem.

This event will debate the key issues: 

  • What is leading disabled people to entrepreneurship?
  • What are the challenges faced by disabled entrepreneurs and relevant support networks?
  • What kind of support is available and needed for disabled entrepreneurs in the UK?
  • What needs to change in current policies affecting these communities?

You can find more information on our research, supported by CIMR, addressing regional inequalities in innovation opportunities for Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic people and disabled groups on our website. 


David Walsh is Managing Partner of Flamefinch Partners LLP, Chairman of Supernotes (a leading collaborative learning solution), and Chairman of the Malta Business Network (UK). In 1996, he founded Crimsonwing, an international software company that grew to a business of 500 staff across Europe before being acquired by KPMG. Past Chair roles include Thrive Partners and Level Global. David is King’s College London’s Entrepreneur in Residence at King’s Entrepreneurial Institute. David funds the David Walsh Awards at King’s to recognise excellence in entrepreneurship. David was the winner of the Helen Hudson Award, King’s Alumni of the Year, 2020, and was awarded a Fellowship of King’s College in 2021.

Dr Eva Kašperová is a Research Fellow at the Centre for Research in Ethnic Minority Entrepreneurship (CREME), Aston Business School, with interest in inclusive entrepreneurship and enterprise policy and support. Eva’s doctoral research looked at the experiences of disabled people and those with long-term health conditions of starting and running a business in the UK. Eva has published in journals such as the International Small Business Journal and the International Journal of Entrepreneurship and Innovation. Prior to joining CREME, Eva was a Lecturer at Manchester Metropolitan University and a Research Assistant at Small Business Research Centre, Kingston University London.

Beth Kume-Holland is the founder of Patchwork Hub and MOKOM. She is a Harvard University Kennedy Scholar, an Oxford University graduate and an international disability rights advocate. Beth’s previous roles include Citibank’s thought-leadership team for their ‘Global Perspectives & Solutions’ series, Unilever and as a Research Fellow at Oxford University. She recently worked as Audience and Market Insight Lead at Scope, the UK disability charity but is now the founder and director of MOKOM and the award-winning tech startup and social enterprise, Patchwork Hub.

David Halabisky is an economist in the OECD Centre for Entrepreneurship, SMEs, Regions and Cities. He currently works on several projects related to entrepreneurship policy, including a multi-year project on inclusive entrepreneurship. He is the main author of the “Missing Entrepreneurs” reports.

Jacqueline Winstanley FRSA is the Founder and CEO of Universal Inclusion and The Inclusive Entrepreneur Network. She holds a series of directorships and advisory roles in businesses and organisations including: Secretariat to the All Party Parliamentary Group for Inclusive Entrepreneurship, Advisory Board Chair: Ability Today, Chair: Foundation for Independent Living Trust, Advisory Board Member: New England Sports for Women. She is a former trustee of the DRUK Disability Rights UK, Shaw Trust Power 100 List Judge 2021, Virgin StartUp Mentor and she is a visiting fellow at Centre of Innovation Management Research (CIMR), Birkbeck.


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