Issue 4 2022

Journal

In this issue:

We focus on entrepreneurs, enterprise and invention, and the role they play in driving system change.

“At the heart of creativity and entrepreneurship is imagining and creating a different future”

The previous issue of RSA Journal discussed how the dynamism of businesses was a necessary condition for growth in productivity and living standards, the fuel of our economy. But the challenges we face today are not just economic; they are social and environmental, too. For mass flourishing, we need to replenish people, place and planet. Indeed, that is the essence of the RSA’s Design for Life programme.

In solving today’s societal challenges, we can seek inspiration from the past. Through the centuries, meeting these challenges has relied on great acts of reimagining the world – and then, crucially, taking action to make the imagined real. That is my definition of creativity. And just as the fuel for the economy is growth, the fuel for creativity is human ingenuity and entrepreneurship. So, in rising to today’s challenge, this edition of RSA Journal focuses on entrepreneurs, enterprise and invention, and the role they play in driving system change.

Read this issue's articles online:

In his interview, Geoff Mulgan explores why political and social imagination has shrunk, and with it creativity, and what can be done to rekindle that sense of wonder to meet the challenges ahead. Meanwhile, Tom Kenyon and colleagues set out the RSA’s Entrepreneurs for Change pathway and how creativity and experimentation has been fundamental to the Society’s (and society’s) history, just as it will be to our future.

Nurturing entrepreneurship is not without challenges. As the experience of TechLit Africa’s founder, Nelly Cheboi, shows, while social enterprise models are particularly pertinent in poorer neighbourhoods, this option is often limited for people facing poverty and constricted opportunity. Cassie Robinson and Graham Leicester argue that we must address the wider ecology around enterprise, including social, political and professional norms, but also governance, in achieving success. This is echoed by Nancy Neamtan and Marguerite Mendell, who explore the crucial role of governance models in social enterprise.

The journal also includes some practical examples of inclusive entrepreneurship. Shaheen Mistri and her colleagues outline the work of Teach For India, where entrepreneurial thinking has expanded access to education. Closer to home, Susan Aktemel writes about Homes for Good, the first of its kind social enterprise letting agency in Scotland. Nasiru Taura discusses ‘peripheral entrepreneurialism’ in seaside towns such as Bournemouth and Poole, which have emerged as unlikely engines fuelling Britain’s entrepreneurial future.

From the local to the global, Ben McWilliams, Giovanni Sgaravatti, Simone Tagliapietra and Georg Zachmann suggest that responding to the global energy crisis will not just require innovation and ethics but also global cooperation, outlining the EU’s current approach and possibilities for a grand reshuffling. And from the global to the inter-galactic, Martin Rees identifies some of the profound ethical questions arising from advances in areas such as AI, genetics and energy, and explores the role of scientists, the public and intermediaries in harnessing the best (and avoiding the worst) of these innovations.

Finally, the culture and psychology of entrepreneurship matters every bit as much as the finance, governance and science. Serial entrepreneur and investor Deborah Meaden (of Dragons’ Den fame) reminds us that entrepreneurial success often relies on learning from failure. And in the same spirit, Joan P. Ball explores how entrepreneurs might reimagine their relationship with uncertainty to make it friend, not foe.

At the heart of creativity and entrepreneurship is imagining and creating a different future, leaning into, not away from, risk and uncertainty, and pursuing purposeful long-term objectives, whether social, economic or ecological. The fantastic stories in this issue of RSA Journal are evidence of all of those core ingredients in the entrepreneurial mix.

Read more about the RSA’s new Design for Life programme

Picture of Andy Haldane
Chief Executive, the RSA

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