The purpose of this paper is to present a model of a university-led business support programme that ran in the West Midlands region of the UK. The initiative was designed with the specific aim of assisting businesses to grow into the renewable energy technology markets by engaging them in a spectrum of support activities. A distinctive form of university-industry collaboration was used in the implementation of the programme where the leadership and management roles were carried out by Staffordshire University, while technical consultancy was delivered by external industry experts. The effectiveness of this model is investigated through a survey of businesses assisted by the programme.
The case study first describes the design and rationale of the support programme and then goes on to present findings from a survey conducted with firms who part took in the support programme (41 per cent response rate, n=54).
Respondents’ overall satisfaction with the programme indicate that the university-business collaborative model worked well. However, the survey findings show that businesses preferred group-based activities over one-to-one, direct consultancy type of support. Results suggest that the overall effectiveness of the scheme could have been improved through greater industry focus and better management of companies’ expectations through clearer articulation of the programme's ability and scope for support.
The survey was carried out with participating businesses only four months after the programme had ended, which may have limited the time for programme-related impacts to mature and/or materialise.
The presented model of university-led business support programme and recommendations can be of use to other Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) as well as business organisations seeking to establish such collaborative initiatives.
This paper contributes to the discourse on university-industry relationships and the nature of business support programmes by presenting a “real-world” case study of a university-led business support initiative. The findings and recommendations may be of interest and use to researchers, HEIs, policy makers as well as business support and training organisations.
The author would like to thank all the businesses who took the time to fill in the survey, as well as colleagues for reviewing earlier drafts of this paper.
Prochorskaite, A. (2014), "University-led business support: a case study of a regional programme", Industrial and Commercial Training, Vol. 46 No. 5, pp. 257-264. https://doi.org/10.1108/ICT-11-2013-0079Download as .RIS
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