Published: June 27, 2024

Attendees of the GEIRC conference pose for a group photo

Attendees of the 2024 Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research Conference arrived from Taiwan, Australia, China, the United Kingdom, Italy, and more to explore the wide-ranging impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation.

The Global Entrepreneurship and Innovation Research Conference (GEIRC) took place in Boulder on June 13 and 14 after a five-year hiatus. In collaboration with the University of Virginia Darden School of Business and the University of Cambridge Judge Business School, the 2024 GEIRC brought together a diverse group of scholars from around the world to discuss the cross-disciplinary impact of entrepreneurship. 

Janet Bercovitz, conference co-chair and Leeds’ strategy and entrepreneurship PhD program director, explained that after the break, the team at Leeds’ Deming Center and the steering committee composed of members from the collaborating colleges wanted to “bring the conference back with a bang.” The goal was to be more global and inclusive as well as to build awareness and excitement about GEIRC. 

Bringing a global community together

The conference provides a unique opportunity for global collaboration by moving locations each year and bringing attendees from across the world together. Bercovitz explained that “broadening the conference helps researchers. A lot of research is done in the U.S., and a lot of data is U.S. and U.K. oriented. Getting a wider view from an international perspective provides opportunities to develop new insights and data.” 

Attendees arrived from Taiwan, Australia, China, the United Kingdom, Italy, and more to explore the wide-ranging impacts of entrepreneurship and innovation. “This year,” said Betsy Klein, associate director of the Deming Center for Entrepreneurship, “the sub-theme of our conference was using entrepreneurship to solve some of our greatest problems, like income inequality, health care, climate change, and more.” 

“By being international and being intentional in our call for papers across all types of research on entrepreneurship,” Klein continued, “we have the best opportunities to make the world a better place.” 

While the Leeds School of Business has an incredible local focus on the community in Boulder and Colorado, the conference also supports the school’s goal of having a global impact. “Bringing scholars from all around the world to Boulder to highlight the wonderful things that the Leeds School and Boulder have to offer aligns nicely with that mission,” said conference co-chair Jeff York, who serves as Leeds’ associate dean for strategic initiatives and research director of the Deming Center.

A cross-disciplinary lens on entrepreneurship

“We’re in entrepreneurship—we believe everything can have an element of entrepreneurial thinking and that any industry can take advantage of thinking like an entrepreneur,” Klein said. This belief brought together researchers from across disciplines, including organizational behavior, finance, law, and more. 

“It was impressive to see the diversity of different lenses that were presented,” York added. “People discussed work from areas outside of their disciplines, and that sort of cross-disciplinary collaboration is what really makes the conference stand out.”  

The blending of international attendees with different areas of research created the opportunity for attendees to network and consider future collaboration. “The research community [at the conference] is unique,” Klein explained. “The papers that are presented are not all faculty from one school. The scholars build great connections, which offers so many different points of view. We often see PhD students—who are from, for example, University of Washington, CU Boulder, and Oxford—collaborating on a paper.” 

GEIRC facilitates these cross-disciplinary connections through thoughtful selection of papers and presentations. 

Selecting the right research

One main goal of the conference was to receive high quality paper submissions and curate cohesive presentation sessions. After receiving more than 100 submissions, the review committee selected around 40 to highlight during the event. Over the two-day conference, there were a dozen unique sessions that covered corporate innovation, governance, stakeholder engagement, entrepreneurship for the public good, and more. 

“We ended up having dual tracks because we had so many quality papers,” Bercovitz shared. “And the sessions were united by central themes. For example, we had one session that looked at the agglomeration of economies.” While the papers featured in that session focused on different elements of how economies come together, a central theme of how locations are important emerged. 

The conference also provided a new opportunity for PhD students to share their work in three-minute presentations called “Flash Talks.” By stripping the students’ research to the most important parts, it helped them gain exposure to a larger network and get feedback from experienced researchers during breaks. “Three minutes is very tight for people because you usually have about 15 minutes,” York explained. “But it was one of the most popular parts of the conference because sharing research rapid-fire is interesting. You’re hitting the stuff that really matters, and you’re getting people talking.” 

What’s next for GEIRC

Next year, the conference travels to Taiwan, and members of the Leeds community will have the opportunity to sit on the paper review committee and support the planning of the conference. “It’s a good opportunity to continue engaging with partners from around the world,” York shared. 

As the conference continues to grow, co-chairs Bercovitz and York hope that the cross-disciplinary perspective will continue to be a priority, as this opens the door to special issues in research journals or future panel sessions outside of the conference. Adding more partners to the conference is also a priority. 

“We are definitely going to be adding a partner in Asia, and I’d love to see a partner from the Global South,” said York. “By adding South America, for example, the conference really begins to reach every corner of the globe.” 

Locally, the team at the Deming Center is also looking forward to releasing new episodes of its podcast, Creative Distillation, this fall. Each episode highlights a recent study to discuss how the research is valuable to business students and the broader startup community. During the conference, York, podcast co-host, had the opportunity to speak with dozens of researchers from around the world who will be featured. 

The conference plans to continue to travel and will be in the U.K. in 2026 and return to the U.S. in 2027. “We’re so happy to continue partnering with Darden and Judge on this as well. It’s an incredible opportunity to bring faculty from around the world closer and build great relationships along the way,” York said.