Prof Simon Bolton stands outside the Tech Hub wearing a blue blazer and blue open-neck shirt.
Simon Bolton, Professor of Innovation.

Edge Hill’s academic expertise has been harnessed to create a dynamic recovery framework to help SMEs through the Covid-19 crisis. 

The Covid-19 pandemic has unleashed an unprecedented range of challenges for Lancashire’s SMEs including a dramatic reduction in business for many, cash flow and liquidity issues, and operational and staffing problems. 

But the team at the University’s Productivity and Innovation Centre (PIC), led by Professor Simon Bolton, have been working hard to develop highly effective growth frameworks to support Lancashire’s SMEs as they react and look to recover. 

The result is a free-to-use SME Dynamic Recovery Framework created to help businesses find their path to recovery through practical tools and support, which is already helping businesses by supporting them as they react to immediate situations and assisting them as they put in place short and medium-term recovery plans. 

The framework will be introduced by Professor Bolton during a free webinar on Wednesday 29 April at 10.30am, in partnership with East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce; to take part register here

Several upcoming Crisis Recovery Sessions, designed to continue helping businesses across Lancashire and the Liverpool City Region to build recovery strategies, will also be highlighted. 

Professor Bolton said: “The speed of the impact of Covid-19 has meant that SMEs are having to deal will multiple priorities, often interconnected and taking place simultaneously, in an undefinable time period. 

“We recognised that we needed to act fast, so we adopted a lean design approach that enabled us to work closely with local SMEs to build, test and retest ideas quickly. 

“This enabled us to learn rapidly from results being achieved and take onboard the feedback from different-sized SMEs; this has led to crisis-driven innovation.” 

The team have harvested key features from their established Innovation Sprint programme, which is designed to help businesses develop strategies for profitable growth, to create a “robust yet user-friendly solution” which involves innovation, defined phases, the ability to visualise issues and the use of defined tools. 

SMEs are using the framework to help them focus on retaining existing customers, maximise their current lockdown time in order to be ready for the recovery phase and support staff through this extended period of working from home. 

Phil McNair, sales director at Skelmersdale-based computer support and services business Virtue Technologies, praised the framework: “It has helped us to revise our business plan in order to help us maintain our current position. 

“And we are using the lockdown time to actively engage our staff in targeted process improvements to maximise the use of our customer relationship management system so that we are ready for restart.” 

Tony Garner, managing director at Viva PR, added: “The framework has helped us to reassess our product and service portfolio, prioritise key market sectors and target key customer profiles. We are now starting to win new business.” 

The Dynamic Recovery Framework template and productivity tool kit is available free here