Tag Archives: 2014

Breaking the Mould, an RSA Report, pdf version...

The RSA have just published a report, Breaking The Mould, which examines the contribution to the SME sector that on-line market places, like Etsy, make to this economic sector.

If you haven’t already…discover Etsy on-line here – shop from independent crafts people from around the world.


pdfIcon4 You can download a copy of the new RSA report here…

The report, authored by the RSA’s Benedict Dellot, emerges from the support that Etsy gave to the recent project The Power of Small. The report defines and conditions the role of e-commerce for the small, entrepreneurial business and assesses how changes in support and on-line infrastructure could further advance the sector.

The UK’s micro-business community is expanding rapidly. Since the turn of the century there has been a 40 percent increase in the number of firms with fewer than 10 employees, and a growth of over 600,000 since the economic downturn began in 2008.

Yet one of the most interesting trends lies behind the headline figures ­ namely the growth in part-time self-employment. The number of people working for themselves for less than 30 hours a week has grown by almost 65 percent since 2000…

The report offers insights, garnered from research respondents, into the sectoral structure of the on-line craft entrepreneur. The data reveals a strong commitment by women business creators to on-line trading and a remarkably large percentage of respondents who had not sought capital investment for their business.

These findings, to us at conversationsEAST, are a clear indication of a strong, yet perhaps under-recognised, female driven entrepreneurial sector and a perhaps less than clamouring call for finance, which government and mainstream lenders would currently have us believe.

The vast majority (91 percent) of sellers are female.  20 percent of sellers report their Etsy business to be full-time, compared with 65 percent who are part-time. 22 percent are employed in a full-time job on top of their Etsy business and 15 percent are in a part-time job. 15 percent are at home looking after dependents, whilst 40 percent of sellers required no funding to get their business started…

The report, Breaking The Mould, also offers the reader some innovative recommendations as to how this sector focus, of on-line craft entrepreneurs, can be supported. (The report, in general terms of marketing, finance and enterprise, is a model of energetic advance for the SME sector as a whole, we would argue…Ed).

The new pathways to enterprise support  include…

  • Recognise ventures in official measurements 
  • This is a vital turn for ONS and government departments who monitor and support trade and industry. Often the core resources to a web business, hosting, network infrastructure, even for the small trader, can lie outside the UK. But the revenue generated and associated supplies and ancillary equipment sales occur always where the entrepreneur is based…and the additional new jobs too.
  • Make business support part of the BBC’s public purpose
  • A great idea. Making the national broadcaster, any broadcaster, sensitive to and supportive of small business is a powerful tool in raising the bar for young people and those who are gender discriminated against. (The emergence of the social sector entrepreneur fits the bill here too. using technology to  promote goods and services on-line, where social outcome, ethics and green credentials are just as important as profit, all would fit well with a ‘public purpose’ remit too…Ed.)
  • Promote the importance of having a personal `brand’ from an early age
  • Managing your on-line presence early is a great way to master new skills, coding, presentation, clarity of thought and is, if done in a structured way, empowering and self resolving for the ambitious entrepreneur. The on-line business is not a ‘second choice’, any more than the on-line personality is any less powerful now, with the ubiquity of computing and mobile devices.
  • Tweak search engine algorithms to highlight smaller businesses
  • Simple. Make the G###le’s of this world prime referees for the SME in any location. The big corporations already have teams of marketers using traditional and non-traditional marketing methods to make their brands permeate the commerce-sphere. Give the little guy and girl a break too!
  • Deepen our knowledge of the therapeutic effects of selling
  • Have you pitched for anything? Have you structured an offer, simple or complex, and won the day. You enter the room as a philosophical five foot tall person, you leave it six feet four! Never under-estimate the power of small, incremental successes in early stage entrepreneurship. We agree. (This is as much about promoting confidence and personal skills as it is in fostering or extending the consumer society. We all ‘sell’ everyday, one way or another, if we are successful…Ed).

This is an intelligent, thoughtful analysis of an entrepreneurial sector undergoing growth and change. Read and help break the mould.

phoneIconYou can download a copy of the new RSA report here…


 The author of this article has a daughter, who at sixteen years of age, declared that her life would be over when she was thirty. This is as painful to write now, as a it was to listen to all those years ago. She feels differently now.


John Charles Fields FRS, FRSC was born in Canada in 1863 and created the Fields Medal to honour contributions to mathematics, achieved by those in the field who are under forty years of age. ( icon-globe Explore Fields life on Wikipedia here…)

Awarded every four years at the International Congress of Mathematicians, this age restriction has meant that some very prestigious mathematicians have missed being recipients of the medal because their greatest achievements came later in life.

Fields intended the medal to be a spur to young minds, to create a potentiality in mathematics that would drive the young mathematician to pursue even more stratospheric and interesting goals in their discipline in later life.

2014 has been a red letter year for the Fields Medal. Awarded for the first time to a woman and to a mathematician from South America.

Now that emerging economies and a crack in the gender imbalance of the awards has been achieved, lets hope that this fracture continues to widen and that female mathematicians and great analytical thinkers from other previously unrepresented countries, of both genders, continue to honour their academies and pursue the medal.

Winners this year…

Discover Maryam's work on Wikipedia here...Maryam Mirzakhani…

an Iranian mathematician and the first female recipient, was awarded the Fields Medal for her outstanding contributions to the dynamics and geometry of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces.

“Maryam Mirzakhani has made stunning advances in the theory of Riemann surfaces and their moduli spaces, and led the way to new frontiers in this area. Her insights have integrated methods from diverse fields, such as algebraic geometry, topology and probability theory.

In hyperbolic geometry, Mirzakhani established asymptotic formulas and statistics for the number of simple closed geodesics on a Riemann surface of genus g. She next used these results to give a new and completely unexpected proof of Witten’s conjecture, a formula for characteristic classes for the moduli spaces of Riemann surfaces with marked points”.

See the CV of this mathematician here...pdf fileArtur Avila…

from Brazil, was awarded a Fields Medal for his profound contributions to dynamical systems theory, which have changed the face of the field, using the powerful idea of renormalization as a unifying principle.

“Avila leads and shapes the field of dynamical systems. With his collaborators, he has made essential progress in many areas, including real and complex one-dimensional dynamics, spectral theory of the one-frequency Schrodinger operator, flat billiards and partially hyperbolic dynamics.

Avila’s work on real one-dimensional dynamics brought completion to the subject, with full understanding of the probabilistic point of view, accompanied by a complete renormalization theory. His work in complex dynamics led to a thorough understanding of the fractal geometry of Feigenbaum Julia sets“.

Discover this Professor at Princeton on-line here...Manjul Bhargava…

was awarded a Fields Medal for developing powerful new methods in the geometry of numbers, which he applied to count rings of small rank and to bound the average rank of elliptic curves.

“Bhargava’s thesis provided a reformulation of Gauss’s law for the composition of two binary quadratic forms. He showed that the orbits of the group SL(2, Z)3 on the tensor product of three copies of the standard integral representation correspond to quadratic rings (rings of rank 2 over Z) together with three ideal classes whose product is trivial.

This recovers Gauss’s composition law in an original and computationally effective manner. He then studied orbits in more complicated integral representations, which correspond to cubic, quartic, and quintic rings, and counted the number of such rings with bounded discriminant”.

See the CV of this Regus Professor of Mathematics at Warwick here...Martin Hairer…

was awarded a Fields Medal for his outstanding contributions to the theory of stochastic partial differential equations, and in particular for the creation of a theory of regularity structures for such equations.

“A mathematical problem that is important throughout science is to understand the influence of noise on differential equations, and on the long time behavior of the solutions. This problem was solved for ordinary differential equations by Ito in the 1940s. For partial differential equations, a comprehensive theory has proved to be more elusive, and only particular cases (linear equations, tame nonlinearities, etc.) had been treated satisfactorily.

Hairer’s work addresses two central aspects of the theory. Together with Mattingly he employed the Malliavin calculus along with new methods to establish the ergodicity of the two-dimensional stochastic Navier-Stokes equation”.

If you are reading this on the top of a Clapham omnibus on your mobile phone, then some of the content may seem a bit esoteric, if you are disengaged from maths as a subject. If you are a young woman with an interest in number, don’t you dare give up by the age of thirty…Go get that medal, girrrl.


Fun and intellectual stimulation in the sun...

Now with added RSA

Lulworth Castle – July 31st to August 3rd 2014

Bestival booking pages here…

Heading away from the Eastern Region over the summer period? Spending some time on the South Coast? A great event with some inspiring and refreshing RSA talks will be taking place at Camp Bestival 2014.

‘The sister festival of the Isle of Wight’s Bestival, in its first year Camp Bestival was awarded ‘Best New Festival’ at the UK Festival Awards and has since won Best Family Festival three times at the awards in 2009, 2010 & 2013.

Set in the majestic grounds of Lulworth Castle, on Dorset’s dramatic Jurassic coastline, Camp Bestival is jam-packed with entertainment, from stellar musical morsels and cultural delights to stunning sideshow attractions and lashings of family fun.  Featuring a truly enormous kids’ area your little’uns will be utterly spoilt for choice

With a host of thrilling activities from soft play and circus skills to go-carts and glitter, there’s plenty of excitement for kids of all ages. Plus, there are kids’ shows and performances on the Castle Stage and in the Big Top, daring antics to be had at the Freesports Park, and fairytale escapism in the Dingly Dell’.

Narrative source: Camp Bestival web pages – see more here…

The RSA Hour

Vintage travellers…ready for Dorset?

The RSA Team will be boarding their summer holiday charabanc and leaving the metropolis for the Dorset countryside. With tents, wellies and a relaxed mind, ready to be entertained themselves and to have the children beguiled too.


Fellows, and the assembled audience, will be able to enjoy The RSA Hour events on Saturday and Sunday of the weekend…

Saturday 2 August at 10am.
Psychologist Dr Ben Ambridge’s innovative interactive investigation of intelligence.
‘What is intelligence? Where does it come from, and why does it even matter? How much do you know and understand about what makes you tick? And how good are you at predicting other people’s behavior…or even your own?

What’s the link between intelligence and curly fries? Are atheists cleverer than religious people? What about men vs women, or right- vs left handers? Does listening to heavy metal or Mozart make you smarter? What do different shapes taste like? Are you stupider than a monkey?’

Sunday 3 August at 1pm.
Dr. Kevin Fong – our fascination with the final frontier.
‘Of the men who once walked on the Moon, only a handful now remain.  The space shuttle, the most remarkable space craft ever built, is gone.  Our ambitions appear to be failing almost as fast as the Government funds available for space exploration.

Variously described as ‘TV’s face of science’ and the ‘Brian Cox of medicine’, self-confessed space junkie Dr. Kevin Fong asks – have we come to the end of our fascination with the frontier of space? What social and scientific value did our curiosity about space really add, back here on Earth? Perhaps in the future we will look back upon the endeavour of human space flight as we do the building of the pyramids…’

Narrative source: RSA events web pages.

interneticon  You can find the Bestival booking pages here…

interneticon  See more about the RSA Hour on the pages of the RSA web site here.

You can find RSA East regional events here, and check out what’s on at The House too on the pages of conversationsEAST.


 Our summer conference in Norfolk.

‘The RSA East of England conference will happen this year on Saturday 14 June, 10am – 4pm at University of East Anglia, Norwich. Join Fellows, community partners, colleagues and students at the University of East Anglia for a lively and informative day of conversation, projects and activities from Fellows within the East of England region’.

The Conference this year takes place at UEA in Norfolk. You can listen to our keynote speakers and take part in a variety of interactive workshops across a number of themes.

Fellows and guests are happy to welcome RSA Chief Executive Matthew Taylor, whose keynote will be The Power to Create, and Professor Tim O’Riordan, who is the Emeritus Professor of Environmental Sciences at the University of East Anglia, who will be speaking to Listening to Young Voices for a Fairer Deal.

Twitter iconYou can join the conference Twitter conversation at #RSAEAST  – you can also follow the conference @CommunityatUEA and get re-tweeting from there.

flickr button image  Our conference images will be posted to the flickr account RSAEast2014

The conference group sessions include…

  • University and RSA research collaborations
  • Empowering Invisible Norwich: some initiatives undertaken by the Norwich
    Area Fellows Education Forum
  • Crowd-funding for Entrepreneurs, Creativity and Social Good
  • What is a learning city?

The Fellows will also have created ‘The Marketplace‘ again this year. Where you will have the opportunity to meet and explore a variety of organisations and projects with links to our regional activity.

You can catch up with our last regional conference in Cambridge here. This year in Norfolk is going to be as lively and informative as the previous event.

interneticon  Book your places on-line here, as well as view and download a full copy of the conference programme. We look forward to seeing you in Norwich on Saturday, June 14th, 2014.


The Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts has been selected as a finalist in interneticon the Art Fund Museum of the Year 2014 competition.

Designed by interneticon Foster + Partners, this iconic building rests in the University of East Anglia campus landscape and is perhaps the pre-eminent collection of modern art in our region. The permanent collection housed at the Centre was relaunched with a complete re-display in September of 2013.

At the same time the Centre’s largest exhibition to date was opened – interneticonMasterpieces: Art and East Anglia. The exhibition was assembled from some 250 works, donated by over 60 institutions. The  ranged from neolithic flint hand axes, tomb effigies from East Anglian churches to paintings from the Norwich School artist John Cotman.

The space, with its endless variety of ways to approach the works, still attracts a sense of wonder and deep engagement. The short video below, featuring the Centre Director and art historian Philip Mould, conveys this sense of connection well.

If you have never visited the interneticon Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts, you should. Not least to see how the curatorial energy of the Centre team has won them a deserved place in this competition.

interneticon  See the Art Fund pages and details of the other finalists here. cropped-conversationsEASTbanner2.jpg

Image credit:

News Desk image by Markus Winkler, Creative Commons, Unsplash...