Motorway at night


Is your business ready for the next crisis?

Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) is running a new programme to help Cumbrian businesses explore and adapt their business models so they are better prepared to weather future storms.

SMEs are being urged to sign up to the new ‘Business Model Innovation’ programme, running as part of Cumbria Forum, which has been designed by LUMS’ business experts in the aftermath of the Covid-19 pandemic to ensure businesses are as agile and resilient as possible.

Ewan PullanEwan Pullan, Project Manager at Lancaster University Management School, said: “Many SMEs rely on physical interaction with customers so when Covid-19 hit, they were forced to close their doors. When something unexpected renders your bread and butter systems and processes unworkable, your business model needs to be reshaped – and fast. But it isn’t something small businesses will think about every day.

“Being agile and able to adapt is a priceless skill. We know that the pandemic is likely to be around for a while and with other big unknowns out there that could impact on business – climate change and Brexit, for example – businesses are urged to invest a little time to prepare for the unexpected. This fully funded programme is designed to allow business leaders the time and guidance to assess things and plan for innovative and flexible business models which could be key to successful and more predictable futures.”

The first cohort for Cumbrian SMEs started in November and the second will begin on January 28, 2021, running as three half-day sessions, delivered online. Participants will take part in workshops and explore topics such as changing customer needs in the ‘new normal’, how to innovate to create new workable business models and how to build resilience to ensure businesses can withstand external forces.

The programme is delivered as part of Cumbria Business Growth Hub.

Suzanne CaldwellSuzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the lead partner in the Growth Hub, said: “We’ve had a lot of experience of working with businesses that are dealing with major shocks – from foot and mouth through multiple floods and now Covid.

“Events like these underline the value of resilience planning. We don’t know what’s around the corner but there are steps that businesses can take to give themselves the best chance of surviving adversity.

“Cumbria Forum is an excellent programme that we promote enthusiastically to Cumbrian businesses. This addition to the offer will equip participants with the tools to become more flexible, agile and responsive. I’m sure it will be invaluable.”

The next programme starts on January 28, 2021. It is fully-funded and available to European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) eligible businesses. SME directors or owner-managers based in Cumbria who employ three or more members of staff are encouraged to register interest here or contact / 01524 510728.

Cumbria Business Growth Hub is delivered by a group of partners – led by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce. As part of this, the ERDF Growth Hub project  is led by Cumbria Chamber of Commerce and delivered by the Chamber in partnership with Lancaster University Management School. The project is receiving up to £2,326,103 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information click here.