New report on how business schools deliver value to local and regional economies

Picture By Jim Wileman -

The Chartered Association of Business Schools has today published a national report - 'Business schools: delivering value to local and regional economies'which highlights the far reaching contributions business schools make to local and regional economies.

The Association has raised concerns that EU funded programmes which have had significant impact on businesses and local growth are now at risk of a lack of funding as a result of Brexit. The report makes a number of recommendations for government, business schools, businesses and local stakeholders to build on the value business schools deliver to local areas and the economy.

Economic development programmes across the UK have led to increases in business income, profitability, productivity and created nearly 200,000 jobs since 2007. Investments targeting local and regional growth from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the European Social Fund (ESF) totalled £8.3bn. The Government has promised to protect funding for projects already going ahead as part of the current funding round but there are not as yet any plans for how such projects will be funded after the UK exits from the EU.

Business schools, working in collaboration with Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners, are pivotal in the delivery of the training and R&D elements of these programmes. Lancaster University Management School’s ERDF projects, such as the LEAD programme which created over 10,000 jobs, boosted the economy by £15.80 for each pound received – almost double the national average of £8.70. Nearly three quarters of the businesses participating in Teesside University’s ERDF funded Leading Growth Programme reported higher sales following the programme.

The report recommends that to secure the ongoing impact of business school activities which promote local growth and productivity the Government should commit to fund economic development programmes after Brexit. Business school leaders have offered to work closely with the government to help shape the landscape for regional development infrastructure and funding ahead of Britain’s exit from the EU and the need to replace ERDF and ESF funds.

Professor Simon Collinson, Chair of Chartered Association of Business Schools, and Dean of Birmingham Business School said: “Whilst the Chancellor has given assurances for programmes that have already been given the green light we need a commitment in the Government’s forthcoming Brexit strategy to fund economic development projects which support business growth, innovation and productivity through leadership programmes and R&D. Without these projects and the interventions our world class business schools make with businesses in their areas, we risk a management skills deficit in the businesses and regions our economy needs to prosper after our exit from the EU.”

Mike Blackburn, Chairman, Greater Manchester LEP and North West Regional Director, BT; and Co-Chair of the Chartered ABS Delivering Value Taskforce said: “In the current uncertain economic conditions, we now need to look at how we combine our capacity and capabilities to drive quicker and more sustained local growth. At the local level we have the ability to create plans which are more responsive and relevant to local needs. Business schools and LEP’s have a good track record of engagement but there is more which local organisations and the business schools on their doorstep can do to support business productivity, skills and leadership. The Government should commit to funding economic development programmes post-Brexit which target local interventions and drive job creation and productivity.”

The report also showcases many other ways business schools deliver value to local and regional economies. These include the direct benefits of the employment, investment and student population generated by business schools. Also covered are the benefits which flow from business collaboration, research funding and interdisciplinary research. Following the recent Stern Review of the Research Excellence Framework, and the Higher Education and Research Bill, universities are encouraged to foster “collaboration between the research base and the commercialisation of discoveries in the business community” (HE Bill 2016). Evidence in this report shows that under the new UK Research & Innovation structure business schools can play a unique role translating opportunities from STEM investments into commercially viable propositions for UK businesses. The Chartered ABS believes the UKRI can play an effective role in encouraging interdisciplinary research and promote regional collaboration for growth.

Professor Ellie Hamilton, Professor of Entrepreneurship, Department of Entrepreneurship Strategy and Innovation, Lancaster University Management School; and Co-Chair, Delivering Value Taskforce said: “This report shows that business schools provide a critical interface between business and our great universities. Through research and teaching, and through collaboration with other disciplines, business schools benefit every sector within our economy. We have shown how business schools collaborate with businesses and academics in STEM sectors to help them translate invention into innovation. This report illustrates the breadth and depth of the work being done by business schools to engage with business and communities and the value being delivered in diverse local and regional contexts.”

The report, 'Business schools: delivering value to local and regional economies' can be downloaded here.