Colin is Emeritus Professor of Enterprise Development. He joined The Open University Business School in 1987 to manage the School's side of a joint programme with Cranfield to produce and market the multimedia open-learning Small Business Programme, funded by the (then) Manpower Services Commission. Some 6,000 of these self-study packs were sold to aspiring and existing small firm owners and to the agencies that supported them. In 1992, Colin adapted the packs to support the new Certificate in Small Business Management, the first formal small business award in Britain. In 1996, he obtained funding from the Knowhow Fund to develop a new distance-taught course for start-ups in Russia - Creating a New Enterprise developed together with the Open University's (OU) Russian partner LINK (which, to date, has reached some 3,000 Russian startups). More recently, Colin has led the development of a new, online, level-3 course undergraduate course, Investigating entreprenurial opportunities (B322).
From 1990-2003, Colin led the OU's Small and Medium-sized Enterprise Research Unit with research focused on entrepreneurship, management development and the adoption of technologies in small firms. He has led or participated in a series of externally-funded projects including the EU's Leonardo projects on ICT adoption and management development in small firms, the Learning Support for Small Business (LSSB) ADAPT project, the EU's IST NEWTIME project on broadband in microfirm networks, the Franco-British Entrepreneurship Club e-commerce in small firms project and a scoping study for the National Council for Graduate Entrepreneurship in 2004. Since then, his research has been conducted as part of the OU's cross-faculty Innovation, Knowledge and Development (IKD) research centre. Until 2008, he was Chair of Trustees of the Small Enterprise Research Team (an independent research charity based in the School) and remains the Associate Editor of the Quarterly Survey of Small Business in Britain which has been monitoring small business attitudes and performance since 1984. He is a member of the editorial board of the Journal of Small Business and Entrepreneurship Development. Colin is a former President of the Institute for Small Business and Entrepreneurship (ISBE), the main UK membership organisation for small business and entrepreneurship, academics, researchers, policy-makers and support agencies. He has also worked widely as a consultant and writer in the broad enterprise field, including projects in Britain, Italy, France, Germany and Egypt.