Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership – how are we doing so far?
An evaluation of the first cohort of the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership has provided some important feedback as to the value of the programme for SME Business Owners. The full report is available on request. Please email firstname.lastname@example.org
Overall, SME business owners find the MCIL programme has helped them to improve in key business areas, the majority in strategy development (78%) and product/service sales (78%).
The majority of SME owners reported that their business was growing prior to MCIL, consistent with a cohort who had chosen to join a programme focused on growth and innovation. Of these, 49% subsequently reported that their businesses had increased their growth rate during the 6 month programme, 56% reported that their business was continuing to grow at the same rate, and 6% (one participant) reported that their business was growing more slowly than when joining the cohort. The additionality of the project on growth outcomes at this early stage is therefore restricted to the 49% who said their business was growing faster than before joining the project.
While the data from Cohort One is small (n=18), early indications are that the MCIL programme has delivered tangible business, personal, and learning outcomes for the majority of the cohort, primarily through a strategy of collective learning (Wang & Chugh, 2014). Consistent with other entrepreneurship education programmes (Garavan & O’Cinneide, 1994), the need for a balance of learning strategies
SME business owner-managers value the multi-faceted nature of the MCIL programme, which allows them to practice a variety of learning styles.
In particular, MCIL participants valued:
- Building networks to assist with sharing best practice
- Implementing practical tools to assist with growth
- Developing the capacity for strategic thinking
The more reflective participants commented on the importance of spending time away from their business, and also of the use of networks to drive sales. EU and UK policy has highlighted the importance of networks in export-related growth (European Commission, 2015; House of Commons Library, 2014). Many participants, in both micro and medium-sized businesses, reported an improvement in confidence. The social nature of the programme was therefore an important factor in their learning.
Subsequent cohorts will benefit from the lessons learned detailed in this report. Watch this space for more updates from the MCIL programme.