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University experts call for SMEs to work together

Alison Hitchen

Experts at a business support hub at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) are calling on SMEs to collaborate to survive and thrive in the challenging times ahead.

The Centre for SME Development has already delivered funding from external sources to the value of £10m in business support projects and is on track to assist and grow more than 1,000 SMEs in Lancashire.

Now Alison Hitchen, centre manager, is calling on SMEs in the region to join the growing community to collaborate, learn from the pandemic and work together to help get through what lies ahead during the economic recovery.

She said: “The various challenges facing SMEs of all sizes can be daunting. Bringing the business community together unlocks a wealth of expertise and experience that we can all learn from and apply. With future funding and grant support uncertain, and supply chains changing along with business processes, the centre provides a gateway to the wealth of support available from the University.

“The SME community is indeed getting back to business in Lancashire, and it is helping itself by working together, engaging in problem solving and collaborating but more businesses can tap into this support.

“Centre membership is part of UCLan’s support for small and medium businesses. The community provides a support hub for the diverse issues they face. Here, they can exchange experiences – and ideas – about new ways of working, re-structuring and what the future may look like. The good news is that we’re all in this together.”

The centre team works to ensure its support is relevant and member-led, developing relationships with the business community connecting them with academic colleagues and local agencies such as the Chamber of Commerce and the regional councils and business support organisations such as Boost Lancashire.

The centre offers a range of help through its free membership including Members Knowledge Exchange Meetings which enable owners and managers of businesses to share information and Quarterly Business Breakfast and Twilight Networking Events – currently held online – which feature expert speakers from Industry.

There is also a Good Practice Networks (GPN) where members set the topic for a virtual roundtable discussion and seek help from the membership network and Masterclasses and Workshops when invited speakers share their knowledge and expertise with the membership.

To join, contact the UCLan Centre for SME Development at sme@uclan.ac.uk or complete a membership form.

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