This blog publishes short research articles and observations  from the Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership programme.

This blog is intended to share the learnings from the Leadership programme more widely. We hope there will be something of interest to entrepreneurs, investors, students, and anyone interested in how small businesses lead their businesses, grow, and innovate. We aim to share our research insights on innovation and leadership in small and medium sized business enterprises (SMEs) with a wider audience. The research programme runs from May 2017 to February 2019 and is funded by the European Regional Development Fund and Keele University.

The MCIL programme will support 75 SME owners to develop their leadership skills in order to create new jobs and innovations across the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) area.‌

The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP area is centrally located in England, in the heart of the Midlands and is a mixture of rural and small urban areas, as can be seen in the map below.

Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire LEP map, by rural/urban classification, from the 2011 census


The Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area is home to around 40,000 active businesses, ranging from small and micro enterprises to global leaders in their field. The area has a strong heritage in manufacturing, including ceramics and advanced manufacturing. The strategic challenges for the area include a shortage of suitably skilled workers , lower than average innovation activity (in terms of patents applied for, research funding, and workers employed in high-innovation areas) and lower than average growth rates (as measured by GVA) relative to other parts of the United Kingdom.

The MCIL project aims to address these challenges by providing leadership skills for SME owners, and by helping them to develop tailored plans for innovation and growth.

We would be interested in hearing your suggestions for posts on this blog.

This blog is maintained by Dr Udeni Salmon, Research and Innovation Associate at Keele University.

The opinions on this blogsite do not necessarily reflect the views of our funders: Keele University nor of the European Regional Development Fund.

We are very grateful for their support.

Keele ERDF Logos
Our funders logos: Keele University and the European Regional Development Fund