Cranfield School of Management’s Business Growth Response Programme has now supported its 2,000th participant since it began just after lockdown started at the end of March.

The programme supports small- and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) in helping them recover from the devastating effects of COVID-19 on the UK economy. SMEs are supported in three stages: immediate help to address the crisis caused by the pandemic; to adapt to the ‘new normal’; and, finally, to bounce back stronger and grow their business.

SMEs are a crucial part of the UK economy. They account for 24% of UK private sector businesses, for 43% of UK employment and 45% of GDP. 

Dr Stephanie Hussels, Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship that runs the programme at Cranfield School of Management, said: “SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy. In this time of national crisis, we knew that we had a role to play in supporting businesses and entrepreneurs who understandably felt overwhelmed by the effects of the pandemic.

“When we designed the programme, rapidly in late March, we could not have believed the number of businesses we would go on to support. It really demonstrates how SMEs are desperate for help right now. Over the next few weeks, we hope to work with Local Enterprise Partnerships to scale-up our programme and to support even more of the nation’s SMEs.

“It is crucial to support businesses over the upcoming years to help them navigate these unprecedented times. Many will have taken out loans, in order to stay solvent, and will need support developing their business in order to pay them back. As well as repaying debt, this kind of business support is vital to save existing jobs and create new ones for the thousands of employees who have lost their livelihoods during this crisis.”

Based on the experiences with Cranfield’s Business Growth Programme and research into the driving factors of growing business, the business school has developed a Growth Plan Framework and peer-to-peer learning allowing businesses to be more successful.

The latest event held to support SMEs was ‘Unlock!’, Cranfield’s first virtual conference providing thought leadership content and peer-to-peer discussion to over 100 participants.

“Our aim was to set up an event with insightful and relevant content so that owner-managers and leaders in organisations could better navigate these uncertain times and focus on the opportunities ahead. The feedback was overwhelmingly positive  and we are really proud of what our team and our amazing Bettany Centre community has delivered.” said Sabrina Sommer, Programme Director of the Business Growth Response Programme.

The Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, at Cranfield School of Management, is currently working with both the South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership (SEMLEP) and the Hertfordshire Local Enterprise Partnership to explore ways of advancing the programme further and is hoping to attract Government support.

About Cranfield University

Cranfield University is a specialist postgraduate university that is a global leader for education and transformational research in technology and management.