Universities to help Nottinghamshire, Derbyshire SMEs excel in productivity

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Small businesses that tend to be lean machines will need to strategically apply productivity in their operations.

By U2B Staff 

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World Economic Forum Executive Chairman Klaus Schwab once said that “in the new world, it is not the big fish which eats the small fish, it’s the fast fish which eats the slow fish.”

Applied to the corporate race, what the visionary’s sweeping statement suggests is that the size of the business matters naught–it’s how innovative and productive they are that determines where they end up on the finish line.

While larger corporates have the resources and manpower to produce bigger outputs and innovate much quicker, small to medium-sized businesses operating on leaner budgets will need to rely on high-touch strategies to remain competitive in the marketplace.

To help small businesses across Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire, three universities are coming together to set up a new £7.1 million programme that provides free access to productivity support for the cohort.

‘Productivity Through Innovation’ will be the collective effort of the University of Derby, Nottingham Trent University, and the University of Nottingham. The partnership aims to help the 181 small and medium enterprises (SMEs) in the regions remain competitive.


£3.5 million is awarded to the three universities via the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), through funds secured by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). Additionally, £1.5 million will come from the three universities.

EDRF is set up by the European Union, an effort that aims to stimulate economic growth by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, create jobs, and local community regenerations.

University of Nottingham Industrial Strategy, Business Engagement and Impact Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor Professor Chris Gerada said the programme will build upon a proven scheme.

“This programme represents an exciting opportunity for businesses to tap into the high-level skills available at the three universities and to examine their businesses and how innovation and support can help enhance productivity,” he added.


The three-year programme will be led by the Graduate School at the University of Nottingham, with a focus on improving business competitiveness and productivity of the SMEs.

This will be achieved through utilising the know-how, skills sets, and technology of all three universities through an academic-led diagnostic process first.

The universities will then address the productivity challenges identified with innovation support via placement programmes, management and leadership workshops, as well as academic support.

University of Derby Innovation Pro Vice-Chancellor and Engineering & Technology Dean Professor Warren Manning said the programme will foster long-term relationships between the universities and industries.

It will also help improve employment opportunities and economic growth for the nation as SMEs are the cornerstone of the UK economy.

Through this partnership, SMEs across industries in the regions will have the bandwidth and talent necessary to explore new ideas.

Nottingham Trent University Research and Innovation Deputy Vice-Chancellor Nigel Wright also noted that the partnership enables the companies to “start an ongoing relationship with the [universities] that could provide interesting opportunities for knowledge exchange, graduate employment and experiential teaching and learning while also supporting local economic growth.”