Press release

"Generational change" to drive next wave of entrepreneurs

Published on 19 February 2024

They have inspired and motivated leaders of some of the world’s largest companies, but now two business experts are aiming to guide the next generation of entrepreneurial talent.

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Alison Burns and James Taylor – otherwise known as The Ethical Futurists – are to address budding business founders at an event hosted by the University of Dundee’s Centre for Entrepreneurship.

The pair will host a SuperCollaboration Masterclass for students, staff and members of the public, aimed at helping people and organisations to think and act more ethically and sustainably. The event, to take place on Wednesday 21 February, is part of the University’s Entrepreneurship Week, a highlight of the University calendar. 

 Ahead of the appearance, James said that this is a particularly exciting time to be developing a new business.

“There’s a generational change at present,” he said. 

“People like Greta Thunberg have influenced the new generation of entrepreneurs. Sustainability is at the heart of everything in the way the previous generation were influenced by digital technology and the need to make everything mobile.

“Sound ethics is now at the forefront of new businesses and we are also seeing established companies having to pivot in this direction. We speak with CEO’s and COO’s and they tell us that often it is a conversation with their children that has prompted them to question how sustainable their business practices are.

“Making changes to how we work can be daunting, but this is also where possibilities lie, and that leads to innovation.”

Alison and James have worked with some of the most recognisable businesses on the planet, including the likes of Apple, Sony and VISA. Together, the duo help organisations and individuals think and act more ethically, encompassing sustainability, the environment, future trends, inclusion and the ethical implications of new technology.

The Masterclass will be a homecoming for Alison, who is from Dundee and was previously a Trustee of the University’s Students Association. She and James agree that finding a strong support network is crucial for anyone looking to establish a new enterprise.

 “A key thing we want to get across is that entrepreneurship is not a lone pursuit but a team sport,” she said.

“Finding co-founders or others to build a team with is crucial. The media often portrays entrepreneurs as lone figures, but that is hardly ever the case. There may be a front person, but quite often there is at least one other person in the background who is equally important.”

Travelling the world has allowed both Alison and James to witness different business cultures and emerging trends. But while the event at the University may not feature Fortune 500 or Forbes Rich List CEO’s, both are keen to stress that cities like Dundee are as likely as any to play host to the next generation of business leaders.

“We are currently undergoing a period of transition in the world of business,” added James.

“Dundee was once known for its jute, jam and journalism, but before that it was also a whaling port. The discovery of gasoline effectively killed that industry, so Dundee already knows how to reinvent itself.

“Another key point we discuss is the importance of ‘place’. The Romans believed that places could inspire genius and being in the correct location is a crucial part of being a successful entrepreneur.

“There are many exciting cities around the world but they may not connect with a person, or inspire them. Dundee, however, most definitely has its own genius - a certain magic – and that is a huge advantage for entrepreneurs.”

Alison and James will host their SuperCollaboration Masterclass from 1-2pm on Wednesday 21 February. Tickets are free but registration in advance is required and can be completed online.


Jonathan Watson

Senior Press Officer

+44 (0)1382 381489
Story category Events and exhibitions