Interviews

New Enterprise Research Centre launched to support SMEs

3 min read

24 January 2013

A new Enterprise Research Centre aims to shape government policy and help UK economic growth, by becoming the backbone of growing businesses.

A new Enterprise Research Centre (ERC) worth £2.9m aims to produce research and data that will boost the performance of the nation’s small and medium-sized companies (SMEs). The ERC, jointly led by Warwick Business School and Aston Business school – alongside a consortium of other universities – has the ambition to become SMEs’ first port of call for support.

The economic climate has been challenging for growing businesses indeed, as we all know – could the push of reassurance from ERC be exactly what they need?

Stephen Roper, professor of enterprise at the University of Warwick, said: “For companies that are prepared to invest and make the most of the market opportunities, there is still growth potential out there; not necessarily in the UK, but in the export markets. It is those companies that we are excited about working with.”

If the SME base were to grow and support from finance suppliers can be guaranteed, then we could ensure the growth of the UK economy, said Roper.

“We also want to build a robust evidence base for SME business policy in the UK. We have six research programmes planned, with three focused on the role of the entrepreneur and the leaders of business and three on the resources which small businesses need to grow – around finance, innovation and productivity.”

By producing world-class research focussed on understanding the problems that hinder SME growth, the ERC hopes to have a positive impact on the policy agenda in the UK.

Professor Roper feels that having the ERC based in the West Midlands, the traditional heartland of UK manufacturing, is an advantage. 

“It is through manufacturing SMEs that many of the new exports from the UK will come from over the next few years. We want to try to help companies develop higher growth ambition, develop stronger management and leadership capabilities and help them to re-skill and up-skill their workforces. They also need accessibility of external finance. There are issues about how government can help businesses to innovate, to develop new products and to export. We need to get those internal and external things right if we are to maximise the value of SMEs to the UK economy.”