Keele Business School commended for supporting local economy
Keele Business School has been awarded the Small Business Charter Award in recognition of its commitment to supporting small businesses, student entrepreneurship, and the local economy.
The panel were particularly impressed with Keele’s commitment to supporting SMEs in the local area; the school offers a dedicated space, the Smart Innovation Hub (SIH), which has been centrally located in the Keele University Science Park in order to allow SMEs in the area easy, centralised access to business school support for prospective businesses. The SIH offers a range of support for small business, including drop-in clinics, breakfast networking sessions and mini-expo events.
Keele demonstrates its commitment to supporting the local business community through projects such as the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme (KRISP), a non-credit bearing initiative which places students on 10-week paid internships at local SMEs to work on specific growth projects. This is a mutually beneficial scheme for both students, who gain real-life business experience, and the SME, who benefit from the student skillset.
Further to this, the school partner with the Caudwell Children charity, who provide challenges for students, with the students presenting their solutions back to the charity upon completion – over the assessment period, 95 students participated in this initiative.
Support for student entrepreneurship is evident at Keele through programmes such as ‘Keele Connect’, which matches student entrepreneurs with mentors from local SMEs and annual mini-expo event, which involves students, academics and SMEs.
The school also have a strong focus on student employability; through the Santander University Partnership scheme, the school are able to place students on paid internships with SMEs, with Santander providing funding towards the students’ wages for the duration of the placement; over the assessment period, 46 students have undertaken such placements. The school’s involvement in the OfS ‘Removing Barriers, Engaging Communities’ project also allows them to support students who cannot undertake traditional work placements by offering them virtual, funded internships with SMEs, not-for-profits and social enterprises.
Keele Business School are part of the Midlands Innovation Universities partnership alongside eight other universities in the region, which aims to grow the high-technology economy in the Midlands; KBS has taken a lead role amongst the consortium to recruit SMEs to take part in the research, and were specifically chosen based on its connections and reputation with SMEs in the Midlands area.
KBS has extensive relations with regional and national entrepreneurial networks to support SMEs and the local economy; Keele’s Vice Chancellor has been a member of the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership’s Executive board since 2016, and has played a key role in shaping the development and use of strategic funding to support SMEs across both innovation and enterprise.
The Small Business Charter Award is a national accreditation, assessed by small business leaders, to recognise business schools which demonstrate excellence in supporting small businesses, student enterprise, and the local economy. Keele Business School will hold the award for 5 years. There are now 59 business schools that hold the SBC Award in the UK and Ireland.
Professor Samir Dani, Interim Director of Keele Business School said: “We are delighted to have been awarded the Small Business Charter accreditation for a five-year period. The award acknowledges the innovative and excellent support provided by Keele Business School and Keele University to the regional business community, specifically small businesses. Keele Business school is situated in the 'Smart Innovation Hub' which is a unique ecosystem providing space for small businesses, student enterprise, and business training.
"We are proud of our contribution to the regional economy and community through small business mentoring, innovation leadership development, student consultancy and student enterprise support. With this award we look forward to furthering our relationships with SMEs through opportunities provided by the Small Business Charter such as the Help to Grow course.”
Anne Kiem OBE, Executive Director of the Small Business Charter, and Chief Executive of the Chartered Association of Business Schools said: “We’d like to congratulate Keele Business School on their Small Business Charter Award, given in recognition of their support for student entrepreneurship, small business and their local economy. It is clear that their commitment to supporting student entrepreneurship and small business are the foundations of the school, and we look forward to welcoming them as one of the providers for the government’s Help to Grow: Management Course.”