Impact Case Study

Our entrepreneurship research helps small businesses and social enterprises succeed

Research into business enterprise in the North West has underpinned successful programmes aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses grow. 

How it started

The Centre for Enterprise is passionate about turning research into practical knowledge, which can be applied to improve regional businesses.  Key research includes:

What we discovered

Strategic space is important because it recognises the need ‘for owner-managers to have the resources, motivation and capability to engage in critically reflexive processes to review and revise organisational practices in order to accomplish learning and transformation’.

Social enterprises are able to advance their enterprise capabilities, whilst maintaining the traditions of the third sector.

Young entrepreneurs, with appropriate support, can develop the necessary skills to access physical, monetary, human, strategic and operational resources.

Why it matters

Knowledge generated through research on ‘strategic space’ informed Leading Edge, an EU-funded programme supporting SMEs in financial and professional services.

Leading Edge helped to increase the turnover of 82 participating firms by £3.8M, creating 77 new jobs and leading to further EU contracts for the university.

The success of Leading Edge led to CfE winning a contract to run five LEAD programmes for leaders in SMEs and social enterprises LEAD provided a framework to increase profitability, innovate and grow the business for 120 owner managers of small businesses and social enterprises with core development of strategic space and peer support.

'I'm now really aware of the benefits of reflection – it's a simple thing but has been a great aid in managing the business'

Participant on Manchester Metropolitan University practical leadership journey programme ‘LEAD’.

The concept of ‘strategic space’ was also central to the Goldman Sachs-funded '10,000 Small Businesses Programme' in which Manchester Metropolitan University is one of only four UK universities taking part.

The university has helped 127 North West businesses through the programme so far, enabling access to over £3M of direct funding. 

77% of businesses created new jobs, 66% grew revenues and 16 have been nominated for national awards.

The ERDF-funded Knowledge Action Network programme assisted 214 small companies across the North West, supporting these firms to create 71 and safeguarded 61 jobs. 43 companies have improved GVA and 83 have improved performance, with more results pending. 191 of these relationships have been new university collaborations, and many have gone on to work with us on internships, placements and contract research.

Research with social enterprise has produced the Balance toolkit, which helps social entrepreneurs to identify strength and weaknesses and has been used by over 540 social enterprises.  

University research has also boosted the levels of graduate start-ups across the region. 

The Enterprise Champions suit of programmes addressed the low level of graduate SMEs, including add-on activities such as ‘Business boot camps’ and ‘Going Freelance’.

725 students were engaged with, resulting in 74 new start-up businesses.

Baroness Hanham, Parliamentary Under Secretary for Communities and Local Government praised the excellence of the programme and Manchester Metropolitan University’s ‘enterprise culture’.