REF2021 17Z_ICS_C: Promoting Sustainable Performance (PSP) for Small and Medium-Sized Enterprises (SMEs)

  • Mark Gilman (Research Participant)
  • Salder, Jacob (Research Participant)
  • Hatem Elgohary (Research Participant)
  • Hussain, Javed (Research Participant)
  • Cindy Millman (Research Participant)

    Impact: Economic impacts

    Description of impact

    Birmingham City University has had a profound impact on SME growth. Key to this has been its PSP diagnostic, which has been the basis for 630 practical SME interventions in the UK (predominantly in the West Midlands), 396 interventions in Canada, and 351 interventions in Indonesia. Working with national and local governments, and NGOs, PSP has provided direct support to firms, with dissemination in workshops, one-to-one interventions, and a diagnostic report. It has been used in four funded West Midlands projects, and one of those alone is estimated to have created £2.5M GVA and 118 jobs in the regional economy.

    Details of the impact

    Research and ERDF funded interventions have provided SMEs with knowledge and support that improves growth performance. It has had substantial impact in the West Midlands, and the PSP model has been applied in the Alberta District and Calgary (Canada), with 396 SMEs participating (S01, S02). In Indonesia, we have worked closely with the Institute of Technology Bandung and a Government Ministry to carry out PSP and SME interventions in five regions of the country, involving 351 SMEs (S03). In the West Midlands, interventions were delivered in partnership with a number of partners identified in section 3.

    4.1. Innovation Vouchers and Workshops

    The Innovation Vouchers programme offer vouchers and workshops to help SMEs develop new processes and systems to improve efficiency and introduce new products and services. Within this programme, we have engaged with 339 SMEs, targeting improvements in the quality of their products and services. In the initial phases, between 2016 to 2019, 270 SMEs were assisted. In Innovation Vouchers 3, since June 2019, a further 69 businesses were supported, including through the COVID-19 Pandemic. This phase is scheduled to run to June 2022. The workshops use the individual reports and data from the PSP diagnostic to support SMEs, and 63% of participating respondents considered that they had improved the management of innovation within their business as a direct result of attending the workshops. SMEs reported that the most significant impacts were ‘improvements to the quality of products or services’ (reported by 93% of respondents).

    The impacts of the first two phases of the whole programme were independently assessed, in May 2019, by Regeneration Action Ltd, in partnership with Research by Design (S04). The independent report was commissioned by Aston University, to undertake a summative assessment of the Innovation Vouchers project (phases 1 and 2). This was guided by a standard set of research questions contained within the summative assessment guidance, issued by the Ministry for Housing, Communities and Local Government. The report summarised the outcomes and impacts, for the project as a whole (including partners), as:

    Total GVA to the time of the summative assessment plus the GVA expected over the next 3 years was likely to be £14.9 million. This included £0.9 million at the time of the summative assessment and a further £14 million within 3 years.

    Gross jobs created estimated to be 532 over the next 3 years, with 114 created at the time of the summative assessment (in May 2019).

    If GVA is split proportionately between this REF period and the next (since it spans the two), we can attribute an £8.2M contribution to GVA from the project up to December 2020.

    The report also provides independent estimates (S04) of the specific impact of the Business School’s CEIG diagnostic and workshops. These are:

    £4.6 million GVA, with £0.3 million generated by the time of the summative assessment (May 2019), and a further £4.3 million expected within three years.

    214 new jobs to be created as a direct result of the workshops. This includes 22.5 before the summative assessment, and a further 150 after three years.

    If the economic contribution is split proportionately between this REF period and the next (since it spans the two), we can estimate our Innovation Vouchers impact to be a £2.5M contribution to GVA, with 118 jobs created as a result of our work, up to December 2020.

    4.2. Enterprise for Success

    Enterprise for Success is an ERDF programme delivered with local partners including local authorities across the GBSLEP (S05) and the regional Growth Hub (S05). Its aim is to enhance the leadership capabilities and marketing skills of local SMEs through providing them with business intelligence to inform decision-making. Participating SMEs complete the PSP diagnostic, and targeted interventions were identified by the team on this basis, with support including a workshop series and one-to-one assists. To date, 152 SMEs have been supported through the programme. Programme participants have attested to its value:

    “The process was very beneficial; to have someone with an objective point of view helping work your way through the strategy proved priceless” (Managing Director, Pregnancy Bump Box)

    “(the strategy was) a lifesaver. We now have a true framework that can steer us over the next 5 years, creating a road map for success: I no longer feel overwhelmed” (Managing Director, The Business Support Organisation)

    Participants have talked about how the changes have assisted them to make the move from ‘busy fools’ to ‘strategic leaders’, taking their business to another level.

    Formal evaluation of Enterprise for Success was delayed due to COVID-19, but if the GVA and employment effects are similar to those estimated independently from our Innovation Vouchers intervention (with 270 businesses), we could expect substantial impact from the 152 SMEs participating in Enterprise for Success. Variants on the Enterprise for Success model are presently being delivered in Canada (S01), with 396 SMEs participating in Alberta and Calgary. There is also support, at the ministerial level, for the series of workshops and diagnostics that have been delivered in Indonesia, with 351 SMEs participating in 2019-20 (S03). As observed by a Deputy Government Minister (S03):

    “This collaboration … will improve the welfare of thousands of enterprises that aim to grow and develop their performance, leading to employment and economic benefits” (Deputy Minister, Ministry of Cooperatives and Small and Medium Enterprises, Republic of Indonesia)

    4.3. Growing You

    This programme delivered a locally focused and unique business support programme, helping entrepreneurs from the BAME SME community to find ways to overcome barriers to firm growth, and supporting them to develop their business towards sustainable success. In total, 139 SMEs from Birmingham accessed this programme and benefitted as following:

    “Well over 100 SMEs from Birmingham accessed this programme and benefitted from the data and insight provided by the PSP diagnostic. Upon completion of the programme, each business was assigned a personal mentor by BCU, to guide and advise along the way, thus making it a truly sustainable initiative” (Growth Hub Operations Manager, Chamber of Commerce, S06)

    4.4. Stakeholder Engagement

    Birmingham City Council, Solihull Borough Council (S07), Sandwell Council, GBSLEP (S05), Growth Hub (S05), Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce (S06), and the Black Country Chambers of Commerce have all engaged CEIG to work with them on the design and delivery of these programmes. Others, such as the Federation of Small Businesses (S08), and the Manufacturing Training Centre, have engaged with PSP, and endorsed it to provide support to their members.

    “[the] diagnostic and research have been important in forming our own Growth Hub processes, helping us to identify growth businesses quickly and enabling them to get advice and guidance in a timely and effective manner” (Growth Hub Manager, GBSLEP, S05).
    Impact date20162020
    Category of impactEconomic impacts