On this website you will find information related to the Economic Social Research Council funded project: Social enterprises involving academics and 'community' partners – using a resilience lens to assess value and knowledge creation.


My name is Naz (Shahnaz) Biggs and I am a doctoral researcher and lecturer at the University of Brighton.


The purpose of this study is to understand more about social enterprise organisations (broadly defined) that are connected to universities in some way. In the context and rationale of this project, this may relate to the following:

  • Social enterprises that have emerged or developed through academic-community collaboration/partnerships

  • Social enterprises that have emerged or developed through academics commercialising their expertise

  • Social enterprises where community members have approached academics and requested their involvement in the creation/ development of the organisation

Such organisations may satisfy certain criteria, click here for organisation criteria. My main interest is to understand if these organisations create value, and if so how, and for whom. Additionally, I will be exploring whether they are resilient given the current higher education context.

For the purpose of this project, value is defined as importance, worth or usefulness rather than moral standards (Wenger, Trayner and Laat (2011). In the context of academic and community social enterprise organisations, value may be any benefits connected to research, social, economic goals as self-defined by the organisation.


This research addresses a gap in academic research. To get a deeper perspective on the situation, I am interested in understanding the views of five different groups of people:

  • Academics who are employed by a university and have been involved in the setting up, management or leadership of a social enterprise organisation

  • People who are not employed by a university but have partnered with an academic to set up, manage or lead a social enterprise organisation

  • Beneficiaries of a social enterprise that is connected to a university

  • University staff members who are involved in supporting social enterprise organisations connected to their university. This may include people working in the university partnership team

  • Researchers who conduct substantive research alongside social enterprise organisations or social entrepreneurs, which has led to further involvement with the university, e.g via partnerships or further collaboration