Ms Laura IH Bennett

Room: Sheffield University Management School
Qualifications: MSc in Globalisation & Latin American Development, University of London, 2008
First Class BA in French Studies & Hispanic Studies, University of Birmingham, 2007


Laura has had a broad career to date, spanning international development, non-profits, social enterprises, and tech startups. Laura is a private sector Board member for the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (SCR LEP), specialising in the digital economy and entrepreneurship. She sits on two sub-boards at SCR advising on Business Growth, and Skills, Enterprise, and Education. Laura is on the management committee for the Sheffield Social Enterprise Network, and for four years was Operations Director for a non-profit social enterprise in Cusco, Peru.

Alongside her PhD and LEP board responsibilities, Laura is a freelance consultant. She has delivered workshops about the digital economy and entrepreneurship to policy-makers across Europe and local councils in the UK. In 2017, she authored a report on the Creative Digital sector in Sheffield, commissioned by the University of Sheffield and Creative Sheffield. Laura has designed, built, and run bespoke business support and peer-to-peer learning programmes for digital tech entrepreneurs, including Founders’ Network for Tech North, the Startup MBA for Founder Centric, and the Startup Tribe for Escape the City. Laura has worked closely with University of Sheffield Enterprise and Sheffield Technology parks, supporting their entrepreneurship programmes.



Professor Tim Vorley, Dr Chay Brooks

Thesis Title

Investigating the Causal Mechanisms of Entrepreneurial Ecosystems in the UK

Scope of Research

The impetus for this PhD research stems from two sources: first, the practical first-hand experience of the researcher working in, and having exposure to, various entrepreneurial ecosystems around the world; and second, the empirical academic research into entrepreneurial ecosystems reaching a certain turning point whereby there is a need to move beyond descriptions of ‘successful’ ecosystems and towards deeper theorisation about the causal mechanisms.

The intended contribution of this project is twofold. Theoretically, the research will contribute by illuminating how different stakeholders experience the entrepreneurial ecosystem, thus extending the concept of entrepreneurial ecosystems beyond the prevailing top-down perspective. Practically, it is hoped that the findings from this research project will enable policymakers to make better informed strategic interventions in their efforts to support entrepreneurship.