Motorway at night

Successful Business Model Innovation programme returns for Cumbria’s SMEs

Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) is delivering its successful Business Model Innovation programme for a third time this November. The programme aims 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 ‘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.

At the time of the programme launch, Ewan 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 two cohorts ran last winter and the next cohort for Cumbrian SMEs will begin on 16 November, 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.

Liam Berney, Owner of Cottage in the Wood, the Whinlatter Forest-based ‘restaurant with rooms’ is one of the business leaders who benefitted from the Business Model Innovation programme.  Just five months after his restaurant was awarded a Michelin Star, the pandemic forced its doors to close.

Liam said: “An unexpected benefit of taking part in the programme has been the opportunity to share experiences with other delegates. I was amazed at the innovation taking place at even some very small enterprises within the county.

“It’s not an exaggeration to say the sessions have been inspiring. This has been an invaluable opportunity to generate and share ideas, learn from others including the expert programme leaders, and sow the seeds for future innovations.”

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

Suzanne Caldwell, Managing Director 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, Covid. Businesses across a whole range of sectors are now battling with the challenges of spiralling energy costs, significant staff shortages, transport difficulties, international trade changes and increasing raw materials and staff costs.

“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.

“Business Model Innovation is an excellent programme that we promote enthusiastically to Cumbrian businesses. This 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 16 November 2021. It is fully-funded and available to European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) eligible businesses. SME directors or owner-managers based in Cumbria are encouraged to register interest here or contact / 01524 510467. For further information visit

  • European Regional Development Fund
  • Lancaster University Management School
  • Cumbria Business Growth Hub