Bradford University’s School of Management plays a vital role in supporting local businesses and the local community – and that role has recently led to it receiving a charter that recognises the high standards it is achieving.
Damian Holmes found out more for Bradford Means Business.
The School of Management at the University of Bradford has been recognised as one of the UK’s world class business schools with its recent granting of the Small Business Charter.
Granted by the Chartered Association of Business Schools, it is only awarded to departments whose relationships with local companies and organisations are viewed as outstanding and which successfully create employment opportunities for students.
It’s a recognition of the work the school does in supporting small businesses, local economies and student entrepreneurship and is only granted after rigorous assessment, and is regarded as indicative of world class status.
It comes on the back of figures which show the University of Bradford has dramatically increased its spend with local small firms in recent years. In 2017/18, it spent £6.5M with 436 small firms and, the following year the spend was £11.1m with 320 medium sized businesses, and it is set to exceed that in the latest figures.
Granting the charter, the association also noted that during the pandemic alone, the University had increased its financial support to small businesses to take unemployed graduates on a 10-week paid internship.
The University has spoken of its delight at receiving the charter, which gives recognition to the work it has done supporting the local business sector.
Professor Sankar Sivarajah, Head of the School of Management, said: “We are absolutely delighted to gain the Small Business Charter award, which recognises our School and University’s efforts in supporting our students and local small businesses, entrepreneurs and positively contributing to the local economy.
“We have a long-standing commitment working with businesses and entrepreneurs in the city and region and we want to continue to grow our support to them through our School’s Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) and new business and community engagement initiatives for the benefit of our students and local small business community.”
The assessment that led to the charter was completed online over the course of two days. The association’s panel commended the academic and professional support staff at the University of Bradford for assembling such a well organised visit.
Awarding the charter, its report noted: “Business Schools have become more widely recognized for the role that they play in stimulating growth in the economy [and to] connect to the SME community as well as promote enterprise within their own institutions.”
As part of the assessment process, the panel examined the school’s role in creating and running Knowledge Transfer Network events for SMEs and Career Booster programmes for students, both of which, it said act as a “two way street” benefiting both employers and students.
The associations chief executive, Anne Kiem OBE, who is also executive director of the Small Business Charter, said: “We congratulate the team at Bradford University School of Management for achieving the Small Business Charter Award. Their work in supporting student employability through placement and internship schemes such as the ‘SummerExperience@Bradford’ and ‘Opportunities Abroad’ is commendable.
“It is fantastic that some of these internships were reserved for students from high deprivation areas, providing them with opportunities to gain valuable employability skills. Bradford’s School of Management is clearly a vital part of both the local economy and its community.”
Dr David Spicer, Director of Business and Community Engagement in the Faculty of Management, Law & Social Sciences, said: “As a school we are incredibly proud of the great relationships we have with small businesses.
“Our students benefit greatly through the experiences, projects and opportunities these businesses provide and similarly we know businesses value the support offered by the School and University through our KTN and by working with us and our students.”
He added: “We have some great plans to further extend this offer and will be launching a new space on campus for businesses and students to work in collaboratively for the new academic year.”
The University was praised for its Graduate Entrepreneur Programme and the School’s overall strategy and mission to “develop a thriving, inclusive and socially engaged community through responsible management education and research.”
Its Digital Health Enterprise Zone was cited for supporting specialist entrepreneurs and small business growth.
The association’s report concluded: “It is very clear the University of Bradford School of Management operates in a manner keeping with the requirements and ambitions of the Small Business Charter. The panel [was] particularly impressed with the university’s approach in keeping SMEs at the heart of the business.”
The newly-established company BuBul, which offers tailor-made online business advice to SMEs across Yorkshire, has been developed with strong support from the University of Bradford.
The firm has developed an online software that puts directors of start-ups, or existing SMEs, in a virtual room with 30 business experts to offer them advice.
Bubul, which is free for start-ups, offer analysis, advice, resources and tailored recommendations designed to boost turnover, profitability and improve customer retention for companies which use it.
Its founder and blue-chip customer experience veteran Nigel Greenwood said: “I’ve spent my career analysing the importance of the customer journey and improving it to increase sales and profitability.
“Seven years ago, I decided I wanted to help small businesses grow and prosper by giving them access to the tools and advice that larger companies take for granted.
“I had been trying to get my software idea built for three years and hadn’t made any progress until I engaged with the University. They immediately understood what I wanted and helped me create detailed specifications and costings.
“This enabled me to get an Innovate UK grant which I used to work with the University to build the software in a year long project. The project also included University led research amongst my target market which gave us great feedback on what improvements were needed to my original idea. “We’ve recently launched the software and are already attracting national interest. As a result of working with the University I have been able to grow from a one-person business to employing two people with plans to grow substantially in the future”.
Dr Spicer said: “We are delighted to see the launch of BuBul and look forward to seeing this delivering real benefits for SMEs.
“Our work with Nigel on the development of BuBul is a great example of our partnerships with local firms, linking them with School expertise and supporting their work and development thought working with our staff and students on projects like this. This creates great opportunities for us and our students to learn on live business challenges too.”
For students, the work done by the School of Management to link up with businesses and organisations, and offer them practical work placements giving them experience of workplace environments, is invaluable.
Sofia Ahmed was able to complete a summer internship at Relate Bradford last year thanks to the relationships built.
She said: “Earlier this year I completed my summer internship at Relate Bradford, like many others I had to quickly adapt to the remote working conditions, but thanks to Relate Bradford I was able to work successfully with minimal supervision.
“I was given autonomy in and creative licence in many of my tasks, it was brilliant to be a part of real change in Relate Bradford. This became an opportunity to research my final year project with Relate Bradford, it has been a fantastic opportunity and I have learnt and continue to learn so much.”
The award of the charter is yet another trophy for a school which has already won global recognition for its work. University of Bradford School of Management has a globally recognised Triple Crown Accreditation from the Association of MBAs, EQUIS (European Foundation for Management Development accreditation) and AACSB (Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business).