Centre for SME Development Staff

Sue Smith


Interim Director of Innovation and Enterprise

Contact: 01772 894321

Sue has an extensive track record of university business engagement. Sue began her career in the private sector in the area of marketing and research consultancy. This led to a hybrid role at Lancaster University whereby people with a business and commercial background acted as bridge between the university and businesses. Passionate about leadership in businesses, Sue ran many leadership development programmes and trained other institutions across the United Kingdom on how to develop leadership capabilities in small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). Along the way Sue embraced the academic world and completed a part-time PhD in Management looking at how owner-managers of SMEs learnt leadership. Sue is a contributing author to LEADing Small Business - Business Growth through Leadership Development, a published study into business growth through development.

Sue is passionate about how people learn to lead and manage and the real impact this can have on a business. Underpinning university-business engagement with robust academic pedagogical approaches, Sue has enacted this philosophy in all her roles in Academia. In 2012, Sue took a role at Teesside University as Assistant Dean for Business Engagement and joined UCLan in 2015 taking up her current role as Director for the Centre for SME Development.

The Centre for SME Development is a focal point for business engagement, business research and business education. The centres objectives are:

  • To stimulate opportunities for applied research into SME specific issues;
  • To increase SME engagement with UCLan;
  • To create student opportunities for enterprise activities and employability;
  • To create economic and business impact though the activities of the Centre, for both UCLan and the SME community.

Sue's academic research focuses on two areas. The first is using social theories of learning to look at the impact of SME peer learning. The second is the relationship between universities, business and government and the impact this can have on the regional economy. She is on the editorial board for the Journal, Action Learning, Research and Practice; the Journal of Work-based Learning, Journal of Higher Education Skills and the Journal of Work Applied Management.

Alison Hitchen


Interim Head of SME Development

Contact: 01772 894321

Alison joined UCLan in 2003 after a 10-year career within TV Advertising/Local TV at Virgin Media. Since joining UCLan Alison has remained focused on business engagement, developing strong links with the public and private sector. Alison is passionate about all things customer experience and has a customer centric approach to everything she does. Adopting an outside-in approach, she walks the customer journey and believes that ‘what is best for the customer is what is best for the organisation’.

This passion has led her to project manage a series of European funded projects involving up-skilling customer service leaders, auditing the customer experience and setting up Training Exchange Academies with European partners in Bulgaria, Germany and Lithuania.

Alison joined the Centre for SME Development when it was set up in 2015 to support SMEs as crucial to economic growth (SMEs make up 99% of all businesses in the UK). Alison plays a primary role in developing and implementing a strategy that supports SMEs (profit/non-profit) from concept, through to start-up, development and growth, supporting the University’s commitment to support economic growth and positive impact in the region and beyond.’

Sue Martin


Centre Support Officer

Contact: 01772 894322

Sue has worked at the University of Central Lancashire for 20+ years rising to a senior position with significant responsibility in the areas of Assessment, Awards and Graduation.  She joined the Innovation and Enterprise Service in 2017, initially supporting the Lancashire Forum Creative ERDF project whilst working with small business enterprises for the first time in her career.

Sue was delighted to join the Centre for SME Development in May 2018.  As a Centre Support Officer, Sue is enthusiastic about deploying her extensive knowledge and skills to activities aimed at benefiting the University and the Lancashire business community.  She is passionate about delivering excellent customer service and experience to stakeholders.

Sue works closely with Rebecca Bottomley to provide seamless support to promote, develop and nurture the Centre’s rapidly growing Business Membership network and its associated activities.’

Rebecca Bottomley

Rebecca Bottomley

Centre Support Officer – Centre for SME Development

Contact: 01772 895651

Rebecca Bottomley, Centre Support Officer within the Centre for SME Development at the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan), is keen to support Lancashire based SME’s and help connect them with each other, and the support available from the University.  Rebecca’s previous experience is within Events Management, specialising in business events, she also worked for many years within the leading support organisation for customer management in the North West.

Rebecca works closely with Sue Martin to promote, develop and nurture the Centre’s rapidly growing business membership network, along with managing the Centre’s events.  Find out more and join the network here.