Dr Mark Gilman, Director of the Centre for Employment, Competitiveness and Growth at Kent Business School leads a consortium awarded funds by the ESRC Enterprise Research Centre based at Warwick Business School to establish a community of interest group (COI) with the Institute of Small Business and Entrepreneurship.
The key aims of the proposal are to establish a sustainable COI capable of building a range of research-led activities which promote SME growth through the interaction, application and translation of knowledge between Universities and SMEs. Such activities are also to be supported and promoted through the extensive networks which ISBE can facilitate.
The Enterprise Research Centre invited applications for funding for Communities of Interest around specific research topics intended to support new research collaborations or networks which can contribute to the evidence base on SME growth and development in the UK.
A workshop organised by CECG in 2013 had previously provided insights to research being carried out on the growth and performance of UK SMEs, combined with successful examples of how public-private partnerships can develop and deliver research-led, integrated and sustainable models of support for the business community. The workshop, made up of academics, policy makers and businesses concluded three key points:
- Building trust between all involved is of immense importance if we are to create a SME ‘community’ capable of supporting growth.
- There is a need and a desire for Higher Education Institutions, policy bodies and practitioners to work together to identify and share best practice of ‘what works’ in SMEs growth.
- Engagement comes as a result of all parties working towards a set of common goals and projects. Such an approach was thought to be best developed from the bottom up rather than being too led by Government initiatives. This will require a greater understanding and purpose around SME growth, support, and adding value.
This award seeks to continue this work and address the concerns of participants in order to create a sustainable and dynamic COI capable of supporting SME growth.