The project, led by Sheffield Hallam with support from further education delivery partners The Sheffield College and the RNN Group, will help companies to innovate and adapt to reach their full potential as the country deals with the impact of a second national lockdown.
Businesses will be offered a diagnostic service through an ‘SME Hub’ and will receive a tailored package of products, services and academic expertise to support them during the ongoing challenges.
It will also support the development of skills and experience of students and graduates across the three institutions through project work, placements and internships with regional businesses.
The scheme will help to establish a dedicated team of small business experts to work with SMEs, start-ups and micro-businesses, to overcome challenges and develop new opportunities including:
- links to funded initiatives to help businesses to innovate and grow
- match skilled graduates and students for short and long-term projects and placements
- workforce upskilling and professional development programmes
- collaboration with sector-specialist academics to solve organisational problems
The University runs a number of programmes and initiatives which already support businesses regionally and across the UK, to help businesses access academic research and innovation, establish and build-up new businesses, and access new talent through placements, internships and apprenticeships.
The new funding, from the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF), will bring the University’s and its partner Colleges’ business-facing services together to enable a bespoke package to be offered to SME businesses to overcome their specific challenges or realise opportunities.
Conor Moss, group director and dean of work-based learning at Sheffield Hallam, said: “This project will transform the way we work with businesses to ensure each client receives access to the right support, services and expertise to address the skills priorities and needs of the business.
“The Sheffield City Region will benefit from this service by increasing the number of SME businesses achieving or exceeding their growth aims, and by encouraging more young people to begin careers in the region once they finish their education – supporting the Government’s levelling up agenda.
“The programme will particularly benefit small or microbusinesses who are often challenged by limited resources, strategic planning capacity and the ability to engage with innovation and manage change.”
Andrew Hartley, Executive Director, Commercial and Operations, The Sheffield College.said: "We are pleased to work together to back SMEs in Sheffield and the wider region as part of a skills led economic recovery. The Sheffield College has a strong track record and already provides around 2,400 employers with apprenticeships, training, professional qualifications and industry placements enabling them to get the skills and talent necessary for a sustainable future.
“We are pleased to join forces on this vital work, which also reflects our recently announced strategic partnership with Sheffield Hallam University.”
Read further information on Sheffield Hallam’s business support.