The very first Haaga-Helia Business Innovation Conference (HHBIC) on Entrepreneurship for a Better Future was held in November 2020. This event was organised virtually in the light of the coronavirus pandemic and attracted 80 entrepreneurship researchers and experts from all around the world.
The first keynote speaker of the conference day, Dr. Taru Pilvi inspired the audience by discussing the crucial role of entrepreneurship and innovation in tackling global challenges. She concluded her speech with the argument that entrepreneurship is a sustainability superpower. Dr. Paul Jones, who gave the second keynote speech, discussed the importance of sharing academic findings and how to do this successfully.
During the parallel sessions, researchers and practitioners presented their papers related to four tracks: entrepreneurial ecosystems driving success, entrepreneurial mindset, entrepreneurial learning in higher education and other topics related to entrepreneurship. The presenters in the last track approached entrepreneurship from the perspective of tourism, refugees and internet platforms.
Given that scientific publishing plays an important role in academia, three chief editors, representing different business journals, were invited to share their tips on how to write a good paper.
Master’s degree students of Haaga-Helia were also involved in the conference. As part of their course work they followed the program, voted for the best conference presentation and learned dissemination by summarising insights into blog format. This is a concrete example of how research and learning can be integrated.
Haaga-Helia’s event management students were involved supporting participants with practical and technical issues in the role of conference buddies.
Piloting an open review process
Overall, HHBIC received almost 50 submissions during the call for papers, which is a good achievement for a conference taking place for the first time.
The organising committee’s decision to implement an open peer review process offered both authors and reviewers the chance to know who the other party is. By publicly linking reviewers with their critiques, the wish was to encourage more thorough and constructive reviews to benefit authors with a better understanding of how to improve their work.
In our survey to all the reviewers asking about the reviewer experience, a majority of the respondents described the open review process as good. Some of the keywords used include ‘encouraged openness and supportive feedback’, ‘good thought and fair to everyone’ and ‘good future model’. Many described the overall review experience as good, positive and professional.
Feedback shows a positive experience
In the participant feedback, most expressed high satisfaction with the conference experience. They mentioned that HHBIC offered them opportunities for learning and sharing the latest findings on entrepreneurship and networking, both of utmost importance in the field of research and innovation.
Some participants reported that a virtual event can never replace the opportunity to meet people face-to-face. We do agree with the participants’ view on this, and hope that the next the HHBIC can take place physically in Finland. However, one cannot overlook the benefits of a virtual conference: accessibility, saving of time and cost effectiveness.
After the conference, all the session chairs were asked to provide feedback in free form about their overall experience. In general, the session chairs mentioned that they had a positive experience, using keywords as ‘nice’, ‘interesting’ and ‘great session.
HHBIC – an international forum for research cooperation
Entering the market as a newcomer is never easy. All things considered, we believe that HHBIC was successful in providing a forum for researchers, practitioners and students from Finland and abroad to share and discuss their business-related research and innovations linked to entrepreneurship.
The conference offered an opportunity to strengthen the existing institutional cooperation between Haaga-Helia and its international partners. Many conference papers were co-created by staff members from Haaga-Helia and partner universities. Our partner university network was a valuable channel in promoting the call for papers. Haaga-Helia staff and colleagues from abroad also volunteered as reviewers and session chairs.
The HHBIC Conference proceedings will be published in February 2021 and will be available online for all who are interested in latest research findings on entrepreneurship.