Productivity challenge 5: Developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills in small firms

This challenge focuses on which types of institutions are best placed to support the development of management and entrepreneurship in small firms, by acting as an anchor institution in the local area.


Competition brief: developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills in small firms

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The ‘UK Futures Programme: developing leadership and entrepreneurship skills competition brief’ is the original competition brief to which these projects responded.


These projects have concluded. Links to evaluation reports on the projects are below.

Causeway Enterprise Agency

Developing and delivering a Micro Firm Leadership programme to reach out to these very small businesses. Based on an existing Harvard Business School leadership programme, this project will test if the concept of ‘purpose driven leadership’, which is often used by large corporate firms, can also be relevant to micro firms.

Inverness College

This project will develop a new training programme that involves experienced entrepreneurs mentoring and inspiring other small businesses. It will also develop and test the value of online peer networks and online learning programmes alongside face to face delivery of training.

Regional Learning Partnership

This project will create a regional model that will engage and signpost small businesses to a variety of support services to meet a diverse set of training needs. It will form a pilot group of small employers to co-create and test new ways of reaching small businesses.

Newcastle University

Engaging large regional employers who will release a number of their senior managers to support small firms through an innovative short programme designed to provide the small firms with leadership skills that they can implement in their business immediately.

University of Sunderland

Offering small firms drawn from the two main sectors in this region the chance to work together to share learning and expertise. The project will test different approaches to leadership training at the Fab Lab, for example, evening and weekend access, mentoring and peer networking, and self-directed study online.

Teesside University

Focussing on challenging the low value attributed to leadership development by local small businesses. It will develop a community of experiential and shared learning via workshops, coaching, site visits to large employers and peer learning sessions.

Doncaster Council

Unlocking talent growth within small firms via a 12-month leadership and entrepreneurship programme derived from European best practice and expert local knowledge. The programme will take an action learning approach, with small group workshops, exploring real world problems with local professional service providers.

St. Helens Chamber Ltd

Providing small firms the opportunity to be mentored by medium sized firms in their area who have gone through a growth curve themselves and can relate to small firms’ issues. The project is unique in that it will also enable the cohort of small and medium companies to work together.

You can read more about the successful projects in our Leadership and Entrepreneurship Skills Press Release.

What Works

Details of the projects, and some conclusions and lessons for actual and aspirant anchor institutions are provided in the brochure.

The independent evaluation report draws out findings and lessons from this Productivity Challenge, including key messages for anchor institutions, agencies which work with small firms and policy makers.

Other Productivity Challenges

Our introduction page provides information on the other Productivity Challenges.

Published 19 March 2015
Last updated 5 August 2016 + show all updates
  1. Added evaluation reports

  2. Updated page content, including details of ongoing projects.

  3. First published.