Fresh thinking on entrepreneurship

Anti-fragility – so much more than resilience

There’s a new buzzword in the world of entrepreneurship.  Alan Feighery from Strathclyde Inspire, says;

We’ve been told for so long that resilience is a good thing for business but recent thinking being advanced by MIT in the States re-defines resilience as a neutral position.

Not only does society as a whole need to adopt a more entrepreneurial, problem-solving way of thinking but in such times of rapid change, leaders need to be positively ‘anti-fragile’ and react to changing conditions as an opportunity to grow, not as a possibility of breakage.

Even the term ‘entrepreneur’ is one that is misunderstood. Alan says: “Entrepreneurship or innovation can be practised by anyone, at any level and at any stage of their career. All it takes to be truly entrepreneurial is to be a problem-solver, but with all the creativity, tenacity and flexibility that implies.

“Entrepreneurs are needed in government, in ecology and sustainability, in science and health as well as business. They need to be anti-fragile, have a fast clock speed and ability to turn negatives into positives. Or, to quote MIT, ‘entrepreneurs are anyone with the spirit of a pirate, a desire to hack the system, a desire to rewire society’. 

“Their output might create wealth but just as important are the societal benefits to be gained from working smarter, cleaner, more sustainably and creating opportunities which benefit others and the planet.”    

Several Strathclyde Inspire-supported organisations recently won top prizes and funding in the Scottish EDGE entrepreneurial awards and one of those, Metacarpal, is a case in point.

The fledgeling company was founded by James Swinburne and Managing Director Fergal Mackie. Fergal said: “Upper-limb prostheses have been developed for well over a hundred years and are a necessity for amputees all over the world, yet the most popular device remains a hook invented the same year the Titanic sank.

“Bionic hands are available, however, these come at a cost unattainable to most and, in many regards, offer less function than the hooks.

“Either choice means amputees may suffer from a range of social and economic disadvantages so, at Metacarpal, we have created a product that uses the mechanical operation that many ‘hook’ users already know and love, combined with the important features that amputees value in electronic devices, like interchangeable grips and bionic cosmetics.

“This has huge potential to increase function and reduce the stigma amputees face all over the world, particularly for children and those in developing nations who have very few options available.”  

The diverse academic and commercial team at Strathclyde Inspire stresses these values to colleagues, partners and students across all disciplines; that entrepreneurship consists of defining a problem, designing a possible solution and, most importantly, being able to refine this all the way into practical existence.

Strathclyde Inspire currently supports existing students, alumni and staff through a diverse range of activities to encourage genuinely entrepreneurial thinking. Alan adds: “Our goal is to encourage everyone with whom we come into contact to practise entrepreneurial thinking and to help them to create the economic, societal and sustainability benefits to be truly anti-fragile.  

“Entrepreneurs don’t need to be visionaries or tech wizards; just clear-thinking and sufficiently tenacious to approach problems as opportunities on the way to finding solutions.”