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Mapping the Future of Greater Glasgow's NetZero Ecosystem: A Dynamic Mixed Method Approach

   Business School

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  Dr Bernd Wurth, Dr Mathew Hannon  No more applications being accepted  Funded PhD Project (Students Worldwide)

About the Project


The Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at the University of Strathclyde invites applications for a fully funded PhD to research sustainability transitions based on technological innovation systems and place-based entrepreneurial ecosystems. The aim is to reconcile these approaches for a more comprehensive understanding of how an ecosystem can be created that enables entrepreneurial firms to scale-up and deliver socio-economic-environmental impact.

Project details

This research will employ to be a mixed method approach to the study of the composition, dynamics, and future of Greater Glasgow’s net-zero entrepreneurial ecosystem.

Scotland targets net-zero by 2045 and Glasgow has its own goal to reach net-zero by 2030. Alongside these carbon emissions targets sits the dual commitment to a post-COVID green recovery (Stern & Valero, 2021) and delivering a Just Transition, whereby no section of society is left behind by the net-zero transition. The challenge for Scotland – and the UK more broadly – is to deliver net-zero emissions in a way that also both drives economic recovery and improves social welfare.

Central to these objectives will be the emergence of technological and business model innovations that deliver a “triple-bottom line” of environmental, economic and social value (Joyce & Paquin, 2016). However, these innovations do not simply emerge in a vacuum but rely on a complex web of actors, institutions, networks and infrastructures; often referred to as entrepreneurial ecosystems or innovation systems. It is essential that these ecosystems are nurtured in good time, in order for these innovations to emerge.

The central question this thesis aims to address is: what is the composition and structure of Glasgow’s net-zero entrepreneurial ecosystem and how can its evolution be supported? To address this question the first part of the research involves mapping the entrepreneurial ecosystem through interviews with key stakeholders and focus groups. This will help us better understand the characteristics and composition of Glasgow’s NetZero ecosystem and how it evolved into its current state as well as its strengths and weaknesses.

The second part involves a triangulation of primary and secondary data in order to develop a simulation model of Glasgow’s ecosystem. The aim is to potentially combine a system dynamics approach that represents aggregated properties at the ecosystem level and an agent-based simulation that explicitly models the networks and interactions of key actors and their characteristics. The simulation model will help understand the dynamics of Glasgow’s net zero ecosystem and allow for experimentation with different what-if scenarios and possible policy interventions to support the evolution of the ecosystem.

The third part will uncover recommendations for the types and sequence of interventions necessary to strengthen Glasgow’s NetZero entrepreneurial ecosystem, in a bid to deliver a stronger pipeline of “triple-bottom line” innovations. This will have important implications for public policy at multiple levels (city, devolved administration, national etc.), as well as informing industrial and third-sector actors (e.g., universities, NGOs) about their own innovation strategies to deliver net-zero in Scotland.


Candidates are required to have:

  • An excellent undergraduate degree with Honours in a relevant social science (e.g., business and management, economics or any other cognate discipline) or overseas equivalent. We also welcome applicants with an engineering or science background, who demonstrate a strong interest in the subject.
  • A Master’s degree or equivalent work experience in a relevant subject will be strongly preferred.
  • A strong understanding of:
  • the entrepreneurial process
  • entrepreneurial ecosystems
  • innovation systems
  • NetZero and sustainability transitions
  • Excellent analytical skills and a demonstrable aptitude to undertake research and develop into an independent researcher.
  • Prior knowledge and/or willingness to employ a combination of qualitative (e.g., document analysis, interviews, workshops, of focus groups) and quantitative research methods (e.g., manipulation of larger datasets, statistical analysis, system dynamics, agent-based modelling).
  • Excellent written and oral English language skills (see the application page for minimum test scores if English is not your first language).
  • Excellent interpersonal skills and a proven ability to build strong working relationships.

Funding Notes

Fully-funded scholarship for three years covers all university tuition fees (at UK level) and an annual tax-free stipend. International students are also eligible to apply, but they will need to find other funding sources to cover the difference between the home and international tuition fees. Exceptional international candidates may be provided funding for this difference.
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