London's universities say ‘OpenSME’ to new support for capital's small businesses
27 June 2014
A group of London's universities are launching a new collaboration – OpenSME – that seeks to make it easier for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to access the expertise and knowledge they offer.
Led and developed by UCL and backed by the Mayor of London, the consortium – including other top London institutions such as the London Business School, City University, Birkbeck, the School of Oriental and African Studies (SOAS), the Royal Veterinary College and the University of the Arts London (UAL) – aims to overcome the barriers small businesses can sometimes come up against when trying to access relevant information quickly and easily about how university support can help grow their business.
The collaboration is bringing together – for the first time – information on all the initiatives partner institutions run to support small businesses, classified by sector and type of support, to more closely match the needs of London's small businesses with the specific expertise and knowledge offered by the different institutions involved.
The site provides an overview of a huge range of services offered by universities, including training, mentoring, access to research staff to overcome technical or development challenges, consultancy contracts and opportunities for SMEs to tender for procurement contracts at the universities involved.
Speaking ahead of a launch event at City Hall to make the new resource going live, Kit Malthouse, Deputy Mayor of London, said:
“The majority of people working in the capital work for small businesses and this impressive new plan has the potential to help them take full advantage of some of the world’s greatest universities.
“I have no doubt they will clearly see the opportunity to use OpenSME to learn new skills and expand their businesses, which should be very good news for the London economy.”
Timothy Barnes, Director of UCL Advances – UCL's centre for entrepreneurship, which has led development of the programme – added:
“At UCL our range of programmes for small businesses have already supported thousands of businesses across the capital and helped create hundreds of jobs, as well as contributing over £15 million to the value of London's economy.
“Demand for support for help from what the university sector can offer is increasing from small businesses, especially now the economy is improving, and we wanted to enable them to access support across London depending on local needs and the specialist support they can offer.”