Entrepreneurial Family Business Centre

Family businesses form a large number of businesses both in the UK and internationally. They are a legacy which the founding members envisage will continue for generations; the reality of which is that approximately only 20% family owned businesses make it passed the second generation. Our research focuses on the reasons for this and also why some business owners choose not to make their business into a family legacy.

The Entrepreneurial Family Business Centre has been created to provide world-class research and insight specifically related to this area. Building on the strengths of Imperial College London in general and the Innovation and Entrepreneurship Division specifically, means that the Centre’s key areas of research and expertise focus on issues surrounding Succession; Governance; Growth and Innovation in a family business environment.

We work alongside other outstanding research centres such as the Rajiv Gandhi Centre and The Centre for Management Buyout Research.

Our Vision

A global repository of practices, behaviours and models that characterise innovation and governance in entrepreneurial families and family-owned businesses worldwide.

Our Mission

To help entrepreneurial families articulate their innovation and governance capabilities and reinforce their innovation skills and governance structures and processes through education, reach-out and applied research, as well as providing input to policymakers, advisors and other practitioners underpinned by leading edge relevant research.

What we do


(in partnership with the Business Families Foundation)

  • Defining how innovation occurs in the family, business and ownership areas of family-owned enterprises
  • Assessing the benefits of and conditions for innovation in family-owned enterprises


  • Is entrepreneurship and innovation maintained beyond the founder generation?
  • Does the next generation shift the firm trajectory as environment changes?
  • How is family member exit and managerial family team managed?


  • What are the different dimensions of ownership and their implications?
  • Does succession involve ownership change outside the family and what are the implications?


  • What are the different types of family firms and the implications?
  • How do family business models differ from non-family business?
  • What are the implications of today's high tech start-up as the next generation of family businesses in terms of life-cycle issues?


Delivering in-class programmes and online courses to clienteles of graduate students and executive MBAs on business family innovation, governance and finance

Through our in school expertise, the centre will focus on entrepreneurial family business issues, through MBA, Executive MBA, and MSc Innovation and Entrepreneurship programme.We are currently developing undergraduate courses on Entrepreneurship to meet the needs of students on these courses from family businesses.


(in partnership with Imperial Innovations and Design London)

  • Supporting the growth process for entrepreneurial families’ ideas through their different stages of development
  • Translating family-owned innovative models into value

The incubator will afford hands-on input to help entrepreneurial family firms address issues concerning innovation; growth; and governance structures and processes.


(in partnership with the Business Family Foundations, STEP and the Institute for Family Business)

  • Conducting networking events
  • Delivering continuous education seminars, courses and online modules to clienteles of business family members and professionals

Working in close co operation with the BFF and IFB as well as entrepreneurial families to identify, develop and deliver high-level, high-quality reach-out activities, that meet the practical and growing needs of entrepreneurial family firms. We shall be drawing upon BFF multi-media educational material and practical case studies developed through EFB's applied research programme. We will also have face to face delivery in various locations, and online by practioners and faculty with deep practical experience of family businesses.



Being the first of its kind, we have developed an incubator specifically for family owned businesses, designed to support owners and managers with guidance on succession planning, growth, governance, finance and innovation.


Our family business module is available as part of the MBA programmes at Imperial College. The introduction of a Family Business undergraduate module is planned.


The centre has already begun preparations for our first Director of Family Business Day. The day consists of presentations by academics, practioners and a family business, providing the opportunity to exchange ideas with other family businesses. If you are a director within a family business, contact us for further details about this annual event.

Past Events

SUCCESSION, 10 OCTOBER 2012, 18.00 - 19.30

  • David Gudgin, Albion Ventures
  • Peter Leach, Founding Partner of Peter Leach and Partner
  • Joe Stelzer, Partner and Chief Operating Officer at Cavendish Corporate Finance LLP

Succession is a major challenge that all family firms will have to face sooner or later. Yet many family firms fail to plan adequately for succession and the transition to a new generation can heighten underlying conflicts that threaten the survival of the firm. Choosing a successor who, on the one hand, can fill the shoes of the founder but at the same time is aware of the need to adapt the business to changes in the market place can be especially fraught. Indeed, there may not be an obvious suitable successor and different solutions may need to be considered for different cases. This seminar will examine the challenges in addressing succession questions. What are the key elements of a succession process and what new options are available?

It is vital you attend this session, especially if you developing or working in a family firm and want to know how best to plan for your firm’s future success!

Hear our panel's views and offer your own. A reception of wine and canapés will follow the event. This event is now closed.

GOVERNANCE, 25 OCTOBER 2012, 18.00 - 19.30

As family businesses develop, developing an effective management team and board of directors is likely to become imperative. Yet, this process raises potential conflicts between management’s, family’s and owner’s interests that need to be resolved if the business is to continue to prosper and take advantage of opportunities in the market place. The challenges involve ensuring the development of a board that works and which contains the expertise needed to help take the business forward. An important aspect is the incorporation of non-executive directors with sector expertise who are able to offer unbiased advice while recognising the importance of sustaining the family ethos. This seminar will examine the challenges in developing effective boards in family businesses. What are the corporate governance mechanisms and processes that create lasting value and commitment in family businesses?

  • Lorraine Ulaner, Professor of Entrepreneurship, EDHEC Business School
  • Peter Englisch, Global Leader, Family Business Center of Excellence, Ernst & Young
  • Ross Warburton / Andy Cosh

Find out how our panel have implemented successful governance within their family business; how it has supported their business to becoming more institutionalised and how this has helped to certify their family brand in the marketplace.

GROWTH, 7 NOVEMBER 2012, 18.00 - 19.30

In the current climate, achieving growth is a major challenge. Family businesses present the potential to be an important driver of economic recovery. This seminar will examine the strategies family businesses can adopt to achieve growth and the challenges they face in developing and realizing growth strategies. What are the new opportunities for developing and implementing effective growth strategies in family businesses?

  • Professor Mark Hart, Professor of Small Business and Entrepreneurship
  • John Gilligan, Chairman, Gilligan Group Inc
  • Christopher Oughtred, Director of IFB and fifth generation joint Managing Director of William Jackson & Son Ltd

INNOVATION, 22 NOVEMBER 2012, 18.00 - 19.30

Family businesses may often be viewed as long term, stable businesses in mature sectors. Yet this view is surely an over-simplification. Many family businesses do engage in significant innovation, while others may have the potential to do so. Being innovative may be important for a family firm to sustain itself to the next generation but on the other hand innovation may put the survival of the family firm at risk. This seminar will examine the opportunities and challenges faced by family firms seeking to innovate. How can family businesses exploit innovative opportunities and minimise risk to business survival?

  • Nick Wilson, Managing Director of Hewlett Packard UK
  • Sean Phelan, Founder of Multimap
  • Andrew Wates, Family Director of Wates Group