What makes a good conference?

Well, the obvious answer is … it depends on who it’s for. But, for researchers, teachers, practitioners and policymakers interested in entrepreneurship and small business development this is a matter of some concern.

With ever shrinking budgets, the prospect of only attending one professional conference a year is very real. So, what makes a good conference? On my shortlist would be:

  1. FOCUS on quality contributions, which are based on rigorous research conducted by leading researchers and help provide real insight.
  2. FREQUENT opportunities to network with researchers, practitioners and policymakers in order to build strong professional networks and grow the community.
  3. FIT for purpose venue but not ‘over the top’. Providing value for money is in everyone’s best interests.

Having said this, I do acknowledge any conference must serve its community and also include opportunities for new researchers and practitioners to join in.

So, why am I concerned about this right now? Perhaps not surprisingly as the President of ISBE I’m particularly concerned that we get our annual conference right. This year we are in the Grand Connaught Rooms, London on 3rd and 4th November.

With over 200 presentation selected from over 400 submissions, I’m confident we have got the balance between quality and quantity right. This year we have designed the networking space to be at the centre of activities – including the food! The venue is impressive but still good value – at least by London standards.

But, the real acid test will be delegate feedback!

STOP PRESS 22nd November 2010

The delegates said

  1. Networking was the main reason for attending and delegates were very satisfied (over 70% fully).
  2. Access to the latest research was almost as important and again delegates were happy with quantity and quality – always a difficult balance to strike (over 70% fully).
  3. The venue delivered!

But would they attend again or recommend it to a colleague? Over 95% said yes to both!

And finally, why not see what the conference was actually like …

ISBE Conference Video 2010

Prof Nigel Lockett FRSA

Professor of Enterprise
President of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship