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Professor Sue Smith

Chair, Centre for SME Development, Interim Director, Innovation and Enterprise

Sue has an extensive track record of university business engagement. She is passionate about how people learn to lead and manage and the real impact this can have on a business. Sue has designed and taught on many leadership development and entrepreneurship programmes for diverse learners in Higher Education from undergraduates and postgraduates to post experience adult learners who do not traditionally engage with universities. Sue’s interests are small business and regional development and the role universities play in helping the SME sector (including the third sector) to thrive and grow. Her 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. This research-informed practice based work enables real impact for all shapes and sizes of businesses including multi-nationals, medium sized enterprises, micro-SMEs, scale ups, social enterprises and co-operatives, student start-ups and university spin-outs. Prior to working in the Higher Education sector, Sue worked in the private sector for blue-chip companies and SMEs as a Research Manager.

Professor Sue Smith is the Chair of the Centre for SME Development which is business led, responding to the needs of the Small and Medium Sized (SME) community to stimulate enterprise, innovation and business growth. She is also is responsible for Propeller, the student, graduates and staff enterprise support service and business incubator providing skills, training, mentoring, workspace to encourage enterprising behaviours through to start-up support and beyond.

Sue's academic and practice-based portfolio centres on the leadership development and business growth of Small and Medium Sized Enterprises through entrepreneurial leadership learning and the development of communities of practice. Accordingly, this work has a strong emphasis on impact and is deeply rooted in the regions of the Universities she has worked in or supported. Whilst regionally based, the size, depth and impact of this work is highly significant. Through this work Sue has secured £20m of grant and commercial income and has consistently leveraged monies to fund the innovation work with SMEs which demonstrates serious recognition by the public sector, and businesses themselves, that her work with SMEs is outstanding. This work largely centres on innovative SME leadership and development programmes which have supported the development of over 3,000 SME owner-managers across the United Kingdom over the last decade and created over 10,000 jobs, with delegates reporting growth rates of 13.8% and employment growth of 16.8%. This work is an outstanding contribution by innovation to the furtherance of the subject and its application to society. Sue has an outstanding record and reputation as a communicator of knowledge through and she was awarded a media innovation prize in recognition of her extensive media coverage. The development of her communities of practice work has seen the increase in knowledge exchange activities at UCLan through the support and development of cross-university working through social learning methods.

  • PhD Management, University of Lancaster, 2011
  • Certificate in e-moderation, Lancaster University, 2006
  • Certificate in action learning facilitation, Carter-Hall Associates, 2006
  • Certificate in Learning and Teaching in Higher Education, Lancaster University, 2002
  • BA (Hons) Media with Cultural Studies, Solent University, 1997
  • SME Development
  • Entrepreneurial Learning
  • Leadership
  • Regional Development
  • Non Executive Director, Shared Future CIC
  • Board Member, Business Support Management Board, Lancashire Local Enterprise Partnership
  • Fellow, Higher Education Academy
  • Board member, Engage HEI conference
  • Co-editor, Accounts or Practice, Journal for Action Learning, Research and Practice