The newly founded CRSE has a lofty ambition - to be the first port of call for anyone seeking the most authoritative research on all forms of self-employment. It is a partnership of international academics and industry experts whose research is motivated and informed by real business practice and public policy, ensuring it has every opportunity to have a genuine impact and add value to the sector.

Given this ambition, a similarly notable environment was chosen to celebrate its official launch on 26 November 2015. In the National Gallery, home to one of the greatest collections of paintings in the world, the CRSE found the appropriate setting. The artists whose works were present in the gallery were self-employed and they came from all over the world. From Australia to America, the CRSE too brought talent from academia that spanned the globe.

IPSE (the Association of Independent Professionals and the Self Employed) is a proud supporter of the CRSE and IPSE Chairman James Collings was on hand to deliver a welcome address, stating:

“From engineers to IT contractors, builders to graphic designers, people who work for themselves are playing a crucial role in economies across the world. Yet due to the constant evolution of this sector, understanding is fragmented, research data is hard to find and there are always new areas to explore.

“At IPSE, we wanted a solution. A way to bring together the leading minds in the research of freelancing and self-employment. And for the first time, provide them with a platform to share their ideas and research, to collaborate on new and exciting projects. So we used our already established worldwide network of academics, and laid the foundations of the CRSE - an international think tank that will become the global authority on self-employment.

“In supporting the creation of the Centre for Research on Self-Employment, IPSE is striving to deepen our understanding of the people we represent. It is widely recognised that the self-employed have an important impact on modern economies, but they are a sector of the labour market that is often misunderstood and misrepresented. The CRSE will also play a key role in strengthening our ability to make evidence-based policy proposals to Government“

The range of academics and experts involved in the CRSE is a reflection on the diversity and depth of the research which will be gathered, debated and encouraged. This network is guided by a reputable steering committee, with Professor Andrew Burke as the appointed Chairman. IPSE first encountered Professor Burke, Dean and Chair of Business Studies at Trinity Business School Dublin, seven years ago at a stakeholder event in the Houses of Parliament. Since then he has worked on various projects in collaboration with IPSE, including our quarterly economic survey and a project on the benefits the self-employed sector brings to the wider economy. His collaborations have laid the foundations for IPSE’s current policy agenda.

The CRSE signifies a strengthening of the relationship between rigorous academic research and the development of innovative policy solutions. Solutions that can make a difference to the 4.5 million self-employed people working in the UK today, and to all those who are self-employed globally.

Taking the stage at the launch, Professor Andrew Burke spoke about the role that the self-employed play in today’s labour market:

“The self-employed and freelancers are transforming business practices and career choice. Businesses are making greater use of freelancers to manage risk and drive growth through the adoption of more agile, flexible and innovative activities. We have come a long way from the situation in the last Century when freelancing was regarded as the domain of vulnerable workers.

“Today we recognise that freelancers are a driver of the innovative economy.”

There are big plans on the horizon for the CRSE. The passion and dedication of academic and industry collaborators will further the research into self-employment that is being produced by this think tank. It has already facilitated the publication of work by several academics, The Handbook of Research on Freelancing and Self-Employment – this is only the beginning of much more to come from this forward-thinking network.

For those who are interested in reading further, the Handbook can be downloaded from the Research Library.