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SMEs and Business Engagement

Our mission in engagement is to support local SMEs and other organisations in their efforts to become more sustainable and regenerative in their operations and impact.

The Centre and its activities were central to the University of Exeter Business School being granted the Small Business Charter (SBC) in December 2021. The Charter was granted for the full five years. This represented the first external recognition of the work of the University of Exeter to support the development of local SMEs.

A significant contribution to the development of local SMEs has been focused on innovation management. A recent example is the Innovation Fitness Tool, developed by Professor John Bessant (Professor of Innovation), Dr Allen Alexander (Senior Lecturer) and Anna Trifilova (Research Fellow), which was one of the impact case studies the University of Exeter Business School submitted to the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2021.

The Innovation Fitness Toolkit (IFT) provides organisations with the capability to repeatedly capture the value from innovative ideas, and ensures that even if firms do not land their first innovation, they are able to continue to create a portfolio of high value innovations. The successful roll out of this tool has led to a diverse range of public and private organisations driving innovation, improving products and services and increasing efficiency and growth. This has been achieved during a period of global austerity and rapidly emerging digital disruptions. The impact of the IFT has been seen in global organisations such as Bott Ltd and Hydro International; in the South West of the UK, with 260 businesses and micro-organisations through Devon County Council’s economic development programmes; in public sector organisations such as Cornwall Council and Cornwall Marine Network; and across the world via the International Society of Professional Innovation Management (ISPIM).