On the 5th October, Dr Sarah Underwood was part of an invited panel of speakers for a Tory Party conference fringe event “Why Small Businesses Matter: Amplifying and Scaling Small Businesses” in Birmingham. The event attracted over 100 policy makers, small businesses, SME stakeholders and Goldman Sachs 10KSB alumni, and focused discussions on the role of small businesses in economic growth, particularly given these uncertain and dynamic times.
Bringing together and engaging core stakeholders in the SME space, including LEPs and local government, as well as other entrepreneurs, conversations were lively but overall the message was clear; that SMEs are critical and providing a supportive environment for high-growth businesses to thrive is of paramount importance to the government.
“It was fantastic to see so much enthusiasm and support for SMEs at a policy level. The event really helped to give SME owners a voice and direct influence over those making policy decisions that will have a real impact on these businesses. My role was to really highlight the impact that universities can have in working with, and developing, SMEs – which could be substantive if SMEs are supported in navigating the vastness of our HE institutions. There were challenges from the audience around the readiness (and willingness) of our graduate students to work for SMEs and I agree that, whilst Leeds does this relatively well, there is still much to be done in this area.” - Dr Sarah Underwood, Director of the Centre for Enterprise and Entrepreneurship Studies