The world has changed and the way in which we interact, deliver services and operate as businesses, will never be the same.

What’s The Future? was a live and interactive event designed to inspire, educate and motivate key individuals and organisations committed to providing enterprise-focused activities across the country.

Introducing… “What’s the Future?”

On Thursday 10 December we immersed ourselves in a whole host of enterprise-related topics and visions, from those leading change and direction in the future of Enterprise Support.

Our event was a unique opportunity to listen and be part of conversations and discussions on:

  • The future of… enterprise support
  • The future of… enterprise space
  • The future of… funding and funding models
  • The future of… social value.

Download the Conference Programme

Who attended “What’s the Future?”

What’s The Future? was a virtual event, running in place of our usual NEN Annual Conference, a highly regarded event targeted at the key decision-makers and influencers from within our network of enterprise support organisations, and the wider enterprise sector. We invited individuals and organisations committed to providing enterprise-focused activities across the country to join us on 10th December 2020. Our events typically attract (but are not limited to) Chief Executives and Senior Decision-Makers from

  • Enterprise agencies
  • Chambers of Commerce
  • Local authorities
  • Local Economic Partnerships
  • Growth Hubs
  • Specialist enterprise providers
  • Universities
  • and other corporate organisations with an interest in the enterprise support sector.

Where and When

  • 3pm – 5:30pm
  • Thursday, 10 December 2020
  • This event will take place virtually

NEN 2020 Awards

At the end of the conference, we held a ceremony and announced the names of the overall winners of the 2020 NEN Awards.

Meet the conference programme contributors…


Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets

Paul Scully, Minister for Small Business, Consumers and Labour Markets

Paul Scully currently holds the posts of Parliamentary Under-Secretary (BEIS), and Minister of State (London). His responsibilities include small business and enterprise (including access to finance), consumer and competition (including competition law), labour markets, postal affairs and the retail sector. Paul will deliver a pre-recorded keynote.

Breakout session: What’s the Future of… Enterprise Support?

James Phipps, Head of Economic Analysis and Policy Development, Nesta

James is the Head of Economic Analysis and Policy Development for the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) based in Nesta’s Research, Analysis and Policy team. Before joining Nesta, James was a Senior Economist and Head of Enterprise Policy Development and Evaluation at the UK Business Department. He directed the analysis of various SME support and finance programmes and oversaw a large research programme. James established many RCTs during this time, ranging from small behavioural trials through to major policy experiments such as the Growth Vouchers Programme. James holds an MSc in Economics from Warwick University and a BSocSc in Mathematical Economics from the University of Birmingham.

Breakout session: What’s the Future of… Social Value?

Martin Traynor, SME Crown Representative

Martin Traynor, SME Crown Representative

Martin has extensive experience in the leisure and hospitality sector, following a successful career in hotel management. After being elected to President of the Leicestershire Chamber of Commerce in 1999, Martin decided to change career and take up the role of Group Chief Executive of the Leicestershire Chamber (including CEO of Business Link, Leicestershire). After leaving the Chamber in 2014 to set up his own consultancy business, Martin also took on a number of Non-Executive roles, including Chairman of the King Richard lll Visitor Centre Trust, Chairman of The Forest Experience Ltd, and Deputy Chairman of University Hospitals of Leicester NHS Trust. Martin has a long history of working with local, region, and central government on economic development, regulatory reform, and procurement. In the 2007, Martin was awarded an OBE in HM The Queen’s New Year’s Honours for “services to business and the community of the East Midlands”.

Motivational Speaker

Lucy-Rose Walker founder of Entrepreneurial Spark

Lucy-Rose Walker, co-founder of Entrepreneurial Spark

With a degree in Psychology from Glasgow University and a successful history of working with business start-ups, Lucy-Rose co-founded Entrepreneurial Spark in 2011. After taking over as CEO in 2016 she grew the ES network to 12 accelerator Hubs operating across all four nations of the UK, in partnership with Royal Bank of Scotland. Royal Bank of Scotland acquired the renowned accelerator programme in February 2018. In 2016 Lucy-Rose was listed on SBNN’s 40 under 40 list and was a regional qualifier for the PWC Private business woman of the year in 2017.

Breakout session: What’s the Future of… Funding and Funding Models?

John Spindler, CEO, Capital EnterpriseJohn Spindler, CEO, Capital Enterprise

CEO of Capital Enterprise, Co-Founder of AI Seed and Co-Founder of the London Co-Investment Fund John has over 15 years’ experience as an entrepreneur and business advisor, with an interest in London’s “game changing” businesses. He is a key player in establishing a culture of innovation and investment in the London tech and entrepreneurship scene. Capital Enterprise are London’s experts, connecting and energising a world-class entrepreneurship ecosystem. Our Vision is to make London the best place in the world to start and scale a business. We are a body of connectors, influencers, investors, and policymakers, collaborating to serve and Supercharge London’s startup scene.

Breakout session: What’s the Future of… Social Value?

Sheri-Leigh Miles, Director, NETpositive Futures

Sheri-Leigh Miles, Director, NETpositive Futures

Sheri-Leigh is the co-founding director of NETpositive Futures Ltd and she has been catalysing leading-edge sustainability activity in the tertiary education sector (and beyond) for over 15 years. She is an established expert in stimulating engagement with sustainability and especially experienced at working alongside teams to deliver practical and meaningful change. She focuses on developing process and practice that demonstrates excellent practice with sustainability built into ‘business as usual’.

Motivational Speaker

Gayle Mann, founder of Entrepreneurial Spark

Gayle Mann, co-founder of Entrepreneurial Spark

Gayle is a marketing strategist to trade and has spent the last 17 years working with start-ups across the UK, Europe, The Middle East and Latin America. Gayle also has a strong consultancy background operating on projects for both the European Union and the World Bank.
Gayle joined Entrepreneurial Spark in 2012 and has been responsible for the ongoing development of our proprietary enablement system for the last 3 years. Gayle has headed up the enablement team across the UK and India. She became Chief Operating Officer in March 2017.

Breakout session: What’s the Future of… Entrepreneurial Spaces?

Matt Smith, Director of Policy and Research, Centre for Entrepreneurs

Matt Smith, Director of Policy and Research, Centre for Entrepreneurs

Matt Smith is director of policy and research at the Centre for Entrepreneurs. He was recruited in 2013 by Luke Johnson to design, launch and run CFE as a think tank before merging it in 2017 with the New Entrepreneurs Foundation to form a unified entrepreneurship foundation. Since launch, Matt has overseen research projects on topics as diverse as seaside town revival, ex-prisoner rehabilitation, serial entrepreneurship and military entrepreneurship. He has also managed the launch and growth of two communities – the Incubator and Accelerator Network and the Refugee Entrepreneurship Network. Previously, Matt co-founded the European Startup Network and the student enterprise charity, NACUE.

Breakout sessions

We are offering four live and interactive Breakout sessions. After booking your event ticket, we will be in touch to find out which session you would like to attend on the day. Recordings of all the Breakouts will be made available after the event, enabling you to catch up on content from all the Breakout sessions. 

What’s the Future of…Enterprise Support?

James Phipps, Head of Economic Analysis and Policy Development, Nesta

The future of Enterprise support is currently unknown with a review of funding and service delivery going on at national level. This session will highlight and discuss the testing of new models of business support and diversity in entrepreneurship.

What’s the Future of…Funding and Funding Models?

John Spindler, CEO, Capital Enterprise

An interactive discussion exploring the changing landscape of funding for enterprise and enterprise creation. This session will debate the action required, and the funding needed, to support enterprise development. It will also explore how current economic policy fits with the current challenges facing business, and think creatively about what more can be done to grow out of the recession. 

What’s the Future of… Entrepreneurial Spaces?

Matt Smith, Director of Policy and Research, Centre for Entrepreneurs

A discussion on the challenges and opportunities around entrepreneurial spaces. Local authorities are increasingly looking to create and run enterprise hubs/incubators as part of wider economic development plans. This is encouraged through the £2.6bn Towns Fund, which is inviting 101 towns to, among other things, invest in ‘enterprise infrastructure’. What role can enterprise agencies play working with local authorities to shape and deliver such plans? This session is informed by an upcoming report from the Centre for Entrepreneurs.

What’s the Future of… Social Value?

Martin Traynor, SME Crown Representative and Sheri-Leigh Miles, Director, NETpositive Futures

In this session we will consider: what social value looks like in practice; why it is important; and how to maximise and measure it. We will share practical examples and learning from some of our recent projects including how to make sense of social value in the context of public procurement and the difference between calculating social value and developing meaningful approaches and narratives that really add value. We know that participants are delivering social value, come and find out how to demonstrate it confidently, operationally and strategically.