The State of Small Business Britain 2021: Enabling the Triple Transition

The State of Small Business Britain report is the Enterprise Research Centre’s annual review of trends affecting small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the UK. The report discusses the findings from research and analysis carried out and/or published by the ERC in 2021. The COVID-19 pandemic has continued to dominate the research agenda this year,… Read more

LSBS Small grants

BEIS invites proposals for secondary analyses of the Longitudinal Small Business Survey. Proposals are especially welcome on productivity and place, long term indicator trends, COVID-19 impacts and geographical disparities between firms in capabilities, attitudes or performance. Other topics will also be considered. Proposals are due 17th December 2021. For any queries please contact the Centre… Read more

SMEs and Net Zero

In episode 5 of the Exploring Enterprise Podcast series ERC Director Professor Stephen Roper is joined by Dr Anastasia Ri, Research Fellow at the ERC; Jonathan Withey, Head of Business Development and Planet Mark; and Catherine Westoby, Senior Policy Adviser, Public Behaviour Change on Net Zero at the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy… Read more

Innovation Readiness in UK Foundation Industries report

In a report published today research conducted by UK Research and Innovation found that only 56% of UK businesses across six foundation industry sectors introduced new products and 53% new processes in the last three years, namely metals, paper, chemicals, glass, ceramics and cement companies. UKRI commissioned the Enterprise Research Centre to undertake the research as… Read more

Innovating places

Climbing a mountain, travelling North or spending time near the sea we all become aware of differences in the climate. In some places configurations of landscape create specific micro-climates, which create conditions of warmth or shelter allowing plants and gardens to flourish. Recent research suggests that business innovation may work in a similar way, with… Read more

Innovate short, innovate long

The dire consequences of the COVID-19 pandemic on many firms across the UK continue with depressing implications for employment and future prosperity. The government has invested heavily in supporting businesses through the furlough scheme, loan schemes and rate relief. The strengths and limitations of these measures have been widely covered in the media, but less… Read more

Job loss fears making workers less open about mental health

‘Furlough envy’, isolation and additional home stresses have triggered deteriorations in workplace mental health, new study suggests Workers less likely to talk to managers about experiencing mental health problems since lockdown, fearing ‘repercussions’ Study highlights need to raise awareness among employers of resources available to support mental health   Workers have become less open about… Read more

Diversity and Innovation – the new evidence

We have got used to recognising the role of innovation in generating growth and prosperity in all economies.  At first, society heaped praise on individuals who led technological change (for example, Trevithick, Armstrong or Brunel).  In the last 100 years, greater emphasis was given to larger firms and government policy to lead the “white heat… Read more

New ERC Research reports on innovation and productivity in Northern Ireland

Three new ERC research reports focusing on innovation and productivity in the Northern Ireland economy have been published. The reports, authored by ERC research associates based at Queens University Belfast and Warwick Business School were funded by the Department for Economy Northern Ireland and Invest Northern Ireland. They focus on the interrelationship between R&D, innovation… Read more

Covid-19 and the implications for future innovation

Over the last few days we have seen some inspiring and innovative responses to the Corona Virus crisis by UK firms and universities. The JCB-Dyson collaboration to produce ventilators and the UCL-Mercedes AMG collaboration to develop other breathing aids are outstanding examples. Necessity is the mother of invention after all. But what of the wider… Read more

Shake-up of geographic origin labels scheme “must educate consumers to support UK food heritage”

Education of consumers and minimising red tape is essential as the UK develops its own ‘geographical indication’ (GI) labelling system for traditional food products following Brexit, new research shows  The introduction of a new system for protecting unique British food products such as Cornish pasties and Melton Mowbray pork pies will depend on better educating… Read more

Latest ERC Research Paper

Education of consumers and minimising red tape is essential as the UK develops its own ‘geographical indication’ (GI) labelling system for traditional food products following Brexit, new research shows. An economic analysis by researchers from the ERC found that the primary benefits of the geographical indication (GI) scheme came from the protection of unique, heritage… Read more

Let’s stop talking about ‘innovation’…

The term ‘innovation’ is widely used and abused. What do you imagine when you think of ‘innovation’? Something new? New technology? New drugs or the latest app? Any or all of these could be innovations each of which will have very different impacts on society and the firms and consumers they touch. A new edition… Read more

Britain’s Innovation Challenge: the expansion of employment in higher value-added sectors

Although productivity growth across the developed world has fallen, the data is clear that productivity in the UK is lagging other industrialised countries. One of the challenges with policy development to improve productivity is that there needs to be some consensus as to what the underlying issues are. But for the UK there is currently… Read more

Small firms and formal intellectual property protection: A paradox?

We know that firms use knowledge protection mechanisms to limit imitation and enhance their ability to appropriate the returns to their innovative investments. Recent research at the ERC suggests that both formal (e.g. patents) and informal (e.g. secrecy) knowledge protection mechanisms are important for the innovation returns of small firms (those with fewer than 50… Read more

Getting the right recipe: collaboration strategies for radical and incremental innovators in services.

ERC Research Paper No 77 is published today. Successful innovation requires both effective idea generation and commercialization. Here, we investigate the benefits of alternative collaboration strategies across the idea generation and commercialization stages of the innovation process. Does collaboration generate complementarities between stages of the innovation process? Or, as external collaboration is costly and risky,… Read more

Innovation and productivity: How strong is the connection?

Innovation and productivity: How strong is the connection? ‘Innovation’ is a much used (and abused) term employed to describe everything from flea collars for dogs[1] to electric cars. As a result, measuring innovation can be tricky, particularly in service sectors where firms’ relationships to customers are often individual and bespoke. Fortunately, the kind people at… Read more

Innovating … into trouble!

Innovation is good isn’t it? We all love exciting new products or services which are useful and add value to our lives. For firms too innovation can be good for attracting new customers and increasing profits. But what happens when innovation goes wrong? We have all experienced this. Think about the last time you tried… Read more

Micro-Businesses in Ireland: From Ambition to Innovation

Micro businesses, typically businesses with 9 employees or less, play an important role in stimulating innovation, employment and growth. Despite this, relatively little is known about this important segment of the business population as such businesses are often excluded from official surveys. This report published today presents the findings of a survey conducted on micro-businesses… Read more

Spin-outs and the great university challenge

ERC research cited in article by James Hurley in the Times,  10/09/2018 A 2015 study into spin-outs by the Enterprise Research Centre found that for the “majority of academic founders” there were “significant tensions” between their commitments to university academic work and the demands of the embryonic company. Research paper No 35:  Profiling UK university spin-outs… Read more

Talking trademarks

We are all familiar with trademarks from “Google” to ‘McDonald’s”. But who are the UK’s most active trademarkers? And, how is the profile of trademarking changing in the UK? Some data recently published by the Intellectual Property Office (IPO) on domestic trademark applications in the UK suggests some of the answers. Before looking at the… Read more

SMEs are losing out in the innovation race

SMEs are losing ground to larger UK firms in terms of innovation. This is one of the key messages in new innovation data recently published by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). The data taken from the UK Innovation Survey (UKIS 2017) provides the first robust benchmark for levels of business innovation… Read more

How to skin a (R&D) cat.

Innovate UK recently launched a new loan scheme to support research and innovation in UK firms. This scheme – originally conceived in the austerity years – aims to provide an alternative way of supporting innovation alongside the UK’s innovation grants and tax credits. The new loans also suggest a subtle change in emphasis in UK… Read more

The taxpayer tech dividend: R&D grants provide £43bn economic boost, study finds

News release 7th September 2017  Largest ever study shows public R&D grants turbo-charge growth in UK’s industries of the future  Innovation grants stimulated £43bn additional turnover and created estimated 150,000 jobs  Employment is boosted by around a fifth, turnover by a quarter – but regional variations are substantial Taxpayer support for high-tech innovation benefits the… Read more

Innovation policy: Driving equity or driving inequality?

Innovation policy: Driving equity or driving inequality? The need to boost levels of innovation in the UK is at the heart of the recent Green Paper on Industrial Strategy, and few would argue with the general proposition that innovation is good for growth. New products, new services and new ways of doing business help firms… Read more

Knowledge diffusion, innovation and productivity – changing the game in Wales

The current Brexit debate is important and the structure of the UK’s trading and migration arrangements with our international neighbours will influence our future prosperity. However, other more fundamental long term issues remain important for the UK around productivity. UK productivity lags significantly behind that of our main international competitors and Wales is at the… Read more

Brexit – the innovation bonus

Innovation is always risky. New technologies may not perform, or may take longer to develop than first anticipated. Customers may react negatively to new products or services and innovation may provoke a strong competitive response from competitors. Will uncertainty linked to the post-Brexit settlement increase or depress firms’ appetite for taking these innovation risks? It… Read more

Re-writing the innovation rulebook

Re-writing the innovation rulebook Have you ever heard of the Oslo Manual? Sadly it’s not a type of Nordic Kama Sutra but instead the official – OECD backed – rulebook for thinking about and measuring innovation. Over the last 25 years successive editions of the Oslo Manual have provided the definitive guide to what gets… Read more

Innovation by design.

Good design is a delight. But the potential role of designers goes well beyond improving the functional or aesthetic aspects of a product. Research on design thinking has suggested there should be a design leadership effect when designers lead rather than contributing to firms’ innovation processes. But how big is this effect? Until now we… Read more

The future of productivity: Is innovation diffusion the answer?

Recent research by economists at the OECD presents a new perspective on what drives national productivity growth. This presents a challenge to the emphasis of current UK policy on world-leading innovation. The OECD start by recognising that in every world economy there are some ‘frontier firms’ which are internationally competitive and match global high standards… Read more