Greater Manchester are working with local universities to maximise the impact of their excellent leadership and management training and development offer
Why has Greater Manchester adopted this approach? Mainstream leadership and management programmes for SMEs typically focus on coaching and mentoring via experienced associates. Business schools also have expertise in best practice management techniques, and draw on the most up-to-date evidence of what work, but too often only large firms benefit from this
In other countries where SME productivity is higher (US and Germany), SMEs are known to much more readily engage in leadership & management training, and the UK Productivity Review found this to be one of the key opportunities to boost UK productivity (as well as tech adoption)
Business as usual is unlikely to turn the dial - only 15% or so of GM SMEs say they engage currently with leadership training.
The programme will be a collaboration and brand sharing between a consortium of the four GM university business schools, working closely with referral and delivery partner GC Business Growth Hub. The programme will operate through shared delivery, drawing on the best experts from all partners and will operate to support existing initiatives as a feeder and follow-on experience.
The aim is to change leadership and management support for GM existing SMEs as well as any new business establishing itself in the GM area, so that they are aware of the importance of adopting best practice management methods to bottom-line, and through both this programme and a wider GM brand that partners can coalesce around follow up experience

Resources needed

The programme is funded via the GMESIF (structural fund programme). This is a 3 year €2.2million project.

Evidence of success

Although only just started as a response to the COBID crisis we anticipate the support and growth of 400 SMEs (minimum) and the creation of a leadership and development SME network.
It is difficult to quantify outputs currently because this is a new programme that has been designed to support economic recovery following the COVID pandemic.
However, the innovation in this programme introduces new approaches into the coaching such as the podcast.

Difficulties encountered

The main challenge has been to set up the new processes in the COVID pandemic. Communication has been very difficult, meaning the development of new engagement practices. This was overcome by targeting businesses that were already in the Growth Hub system

Potential for learning or transfer

Establishing this practice is a process that focussed initially on cooperation between a single business growth organisation and the regional universities. It would be a simple transferral in theory providing that all organisations are willing to partner the initiative. The organisations are the same across the EU - Universities, business growth organisations and SMEs. The principle of adopting the engagement practice is easily transferred.

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Main institution
Greater Manchester Business Growth Hub
Greater Manchester, United Kingdom
Start Date
July 2020
End Date


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