New £2.9m Enterprise Research Centre for SMEs launched

11 January 2013

Professor Stephen Roper

A new £2.9m Enterprise Research Centre designed to boost the performance of the UK’s small and medium-sized companies was launched officially at Warwick Business School on Monday January 14.

Warwick Business School has joined forces with Aston Business School to create the Enterprise Research Centre. The centre’s research will inform Government policy to help create the right environment for SMEs and entrepreneurs to flourish and so support the UK’s economic recovery.

Funding for the centre has come from the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the British Bankers Association (BBA), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the Technology Strategy Board.

Warwick and Aston University will work alongside a consortium of other universities including Imperial College Business School, Strathclyde, Birmingham, and De Montfort.

ERC director, Professor Stephen Roper, wants the centre to become the focal point for advice, research and information for SMEs up and down the country.

Professor Roper, who is Associate Dean, Professor of Enterprise and Director of the Centre for SMEs at Warwick Business School, said: “We have three main ambitions for the centre: to conduct and publish exciting and novel research; to provide the evidence for better growth strategy in the UK; and to establish the Enterprise Research Centre as a reference point for anyone interested in issues around business growth.

 “The aim of the launch is to rapidly establish the position of the ERC as part of the SME research and policy landscape in the UK and to introduce the ERC as a source of evidence-based, independent, and trustworthy intelligence and advice on issues related to SME growth.”

The ERC’s work will be vital in making sure the Government makes evidence-based decisions for long-term policy and to improve the business environment.

“Each of the research partners bring significant and complementary strengths to the Enterprise Research Centre,” said Professor Roper, who put together a huge study on the UK’s medium-sized companies called Leading From the Middle: The Untold Story of British Business. “This will allow the centre to research important issues including business ambition, leadership and management, finance, innovation, productivity and diversity. Our key objective is to provide policy-makers and SME managers with the evidence they need to make good decisions for growth.

“We also welcome the opportunity to work with the Enterprise Research Centre funders – Economic and Social Research Council, the British Bankers Association, the Technology Strategy Board and the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills - on this project.

“Each plays an important role in supporting growing businesses in the UK and we hope our research will inform their activities and so benefit UK growth.”

Business Minister Michael Fallon said: “The Government is determined to do all it can to help our businesses to compete, thrive and create jobs. This new research centre will ensure we get behind businesses in the most effective way possible.

“It will provide intelligence and advice on drivers and barriers to growth that can then be used to shape policy. Good quality, independent and trustworthy evidence is an important element of the decision making process."

ESRC chief executive Paul Boyle added:  “Supporting economic performance and sustainable growth, and developing collaborative partnerships with business and government are key priorities for the ESRC.

“The new Enterprise Research Centre brings together significant and complementary strengths from all of the research partners involved. It will provide high-quality research on enterprise which will develop our theoretical and empirical understanding of the factors affecting business investment, performance and growth. By working together we can generate research which will directly benefit business and inform policy development.

The ERC Launch was attended by the vice-chancellors of both host universities (Nigel Thrift from Warwick and Julia King from Aston), as well as the pro-vice-chancellors for research (Stuart Croft from Warwick and Martin Griffin from Aston) plus the Dean of Warwick Business School Mark Taylor and Aston Business School Dean Nigel Driffield. Alan Gillespie the chair of the ESRC Council also attended along with Irene Graham of the BBA and Carol Murray of BIS.

Professor Roper teaches on innovation and creativity on the Warwick MBA by distance learning, the Warwick Executive MBA and the Warwick Global Energy MBA. He also teaches undergraduates International Perspectives on Enterprise and Small Business and Innovation and Alternative Energy Technologies.



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