When Two ‘E’s Are Just Not Enough!

Written by Phil Clegg


Last month I headed to Sweden to attend my first 3E Conference in Gothenburg. 3E (ECSB Entrepreneurship Education Conference) was first established by the European Council for Small Business and Entrepreneurship in 2013 and is hosted by a different European University each spring.

If, like me, you are new to 3E, but familiar with similar conferences in the UK then it is perhaps best described as a ‘hybrid’ covering both the practical elements of IEEC and the more academic content of ISBE.

There are two main ‘features’ to this conference which perhaps make it different to others. The first is that the whole 3E format is ‘unplugged’ and paperless. There are no IT presentation facilities, but rather the option to provide handouts/workshop materials, and/or use the provided flip chart paper/whiteboards. This was a new format to me but after initial reservations, I have to say that I really enjoyed this approach. The lack of the usual Powerpoint presentations and reams of paper, enables a better connection between the presenters and delegates and everyone seems to engage and interact more as a result.

The second differentiator is best articulated by the 3E website which explains that, “the 3E conference focuses on problems and questions, rather than on ready-made solutions and presentations of research findings. There are no keynote speakers to tell us the way, but we will pave it ourselves in a joint effort.”

The first day consists of Practitioner Development Workshops (PDWs), covering a wealth of EntEd ideas and perspectives. Being a practitioner, rather than an academic, this is the day I found most interesting and informative. I spent the first morning in sessions presented exclusively by various Danish universities; chosen simply due to the content being particularly interesting to me. Day two and three focus on academic papers, with these being presented as either small parallel sessions or in a larger scale plenary format.

Another feature of the 3E format is that many of the delegates presenting during the conference are also invited to act as session chairs for another presentation, which spreads the workload of session chairs across the conference delegation.

As to be expected, there is plenty of opportunity to network with other delegates and the small and intimate nature of the conference (approximately 100 delegates) makes this very easy.

If you haven’t attended a 3E previously then I would certainly recommend submitting a paper or PDW proposal and trying the experience. Next year, the conference is being held in Trondheim, Norway from 13th to 15th May 2020. You can click this link to see the rather unusual, but memorable promotional video for next year’s conference!

Phil Clegg

Director of EEUK and Head of Enterprise and Entrepreneurship at University of Huddersfield