ESR5: CWS as tools to foster entrepreneurship, decent work, and retention of workers in remote areas

Host: Impact Hub Global, Vienna Austria, Supervisors: Sarah Stamatiou Nichols (IHG), Michaela Trippl (Uni of Vienna)

1 PhD position, full-time

Duration: September 2021 – August 2024

Economic crises, climate change, and most recently, the COVID-19 pandemic have triggered many socioeconomic changes in cities and regions. Rural places might be gaining new popularity as the digitalization of work allows people to perform their jobs from anywhere. Young professionals and especially young families might consider and start relocating from large urban centres to rural and remote places, looking for new business opportunities and
a better quality of life. At the same time, digitalization and platformization drastically change the access to markets and know-how for existing and aspiring local entrepreneurs from rural areas and new pathways for growth.

Through a mix of qualitative and quantitative methods, the ESR project will look at the ways how CWS in peripheral areas of Austria and Greece can support local and newly relocated entrepreneurs discover new business and growth opportunities by enhancing their entrepreneurial capabilities/skills, building business networks, and providing social and cultural services (social infrastructures). This project will also look at the ways how CWS can function as incubators of new economic models for peripheral areas and tools for combating brain-drain of young people.

The fellow will work out of Impact Hub’s CWS in Vienna. They will be integrated into Impact Hub’s diverse and international team of 20 staff members and have the opportunity to be part of Impact Hub’s global network. 

The fellow will be integrated in the PhD curriculum at the University of Vienna under the co-supervision of Michaela Trippl.

A secondment is foreseen at the Paris School of Business, France and the Region of Western Greece.


  • Development of theoretical and conceptual framework for the study linked to theories of entrepreneurship, business networks, skills and capacities development
  • Methodological design of case study approach and empirical implementation
  • Comparative analyses at local and regional level
  • Development of conceptual, methodological, empirical and policy implications


  • Masters’ degree in social sciences, economics, geography or another discipline corresponding to the topic of the project
    Good knowledge of qualitative and quantitative methods
  • Fluent in English, some knowledge of German preferred
  • Good knowledge of IT-based communication tools
  • Readiness to participate in secondments, conferences and workshops
  • Excellent communication skills
  • Strong interest in interdisciplinary collaboration and in working in a cooperative and flexible team environment

The fellow should contribute to the outreach of the project, especially by:

  • Elaborating a PhD thesis
    Active participation in progressing the ITN’s publications (WP monographs, journal articles) 
  • Active participation in scientific conferences, policy workshops etc. at national and EU level
  • Participation in media communication, in the development of a web-based glossary, in creating video clips and podcasts and in disseminating project information at the
  • EU level using the European Commissions’ communication tools 

For further information you may contact:

Sarah Stamatiou Nichols,


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This project has received funding from the European Union's Horizon 2020 research and innovation programme under the Marie Skłodowska-Curie grant agreement No 955907.