Fully-funded programme to help family-run SMEs adopt new technologies


Fully-funded places are available on an online programme from Lancaster University Management School (LUMS) which supports small, family-run businesses in Lancashire to become more productive by successfully implementing digital technologies.  

The Evolve Digital programme has been designed by Professor Steve Kempster, LUMS professor of leadership, learning and development. It enables business leaders to explore how they can make their enterprises more sustainable for future generations by successfully introducing new digital tools.

LUMS has been chosen to deliver Evolve Digital by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK. The programme is part of a national research study and the outcomes will inform UK government policy on the needs of small, family businesses.

Evolve Digital is one of the most recent programmes in LUMS’ decades-long history of translating the latest academic research into tailored and practical support for SMEs across the UK.

Places on Evolve Digital are available to eligible businesses in Lancashire and across the North West that employ between two and 50 people. Sessions are delivered online for 10-12 hours per month for 3 months. Places are fully-funded by BEIS and Innovate UK.

Participants on the programme will first explore their leadership styles and their businesses strategy, capacity and capabilities. This provides a firm foundation on which they can go on to choose the right technology and successfully introduce it to their business.  

Professor Kempster said: “The pandemic has made it clear that if we don’t shape the digitalisation of our businesses, it will shape us.

“For some companies, that perhaps didn’t have a strong focus on technology before, this shift can be really tough, and in family-run businesses, in particular, it can bring emotional as well as practical challenges.

“It means grappling with issues like ‘who has the power to make the final decision?’ and ‘is it riskier to make a change or stick with the status quo?’.  There is a great deal of pressure on leaders: no one wants to be the last generation of a family business.

“Therefore, Evolve Digital is first about building leadership skills –courage, conviction and strength of character – in our participants and then supporting them to think strategically about their business objectives.

“This grounding in knowing themselves and their business provides a solid foundation for assessing new technologies – or indeed any future change – gaining buy-in and leading implementation.”

The final cohort begins on 11 May 2021.  To find out more, and to register interest in taking part, go to lancaster.ac.uk/lums/evolve-digital