UNITEplus project drives business growth

The UNITEplus project helped Lancashire-based businesses drive projects to success by providing these companies with a student or graduate to work on a specific task.

Funded by the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the University of Central Lancashire (UCLan) and Lancaster University, the UNITEplus Project gave Lancashire-based small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) access to a wealth of knowledge.

UNITEplus brought additional skills to businesses through the engagement of university graduates and placement students. This enabled SMEs to explore the student/graduate employee marketplace on a low-risk basis. There was no cost incurred for the companies involved because the salary for the student was paid by the project. The UNITEplus project has supported over 450 SMEs and helped over 60 new products to be created.

Lancashire-based SMEs reaped the benefits of the knowledge, experience, and skills that the graduate or placement student brought. 165 full-time equivalent jobs have been created thanks to the UNITEplus project. The jobs include full-time permanent positions that have been filled by graduates/students following completion of their placement and studies.

"The UNITEplus team were amazing throughout the whole process and I’m thankful for their dedication, passion and advice. It never went unnoticed."

SME beneficiary

A company that used the project shared their experience: “The UNITEplus team were amazing throughout the whole process and I’m thankful for their dedication, passion and advice. It never went unnoticed.” – SME beneficiary.

Another beneficiary commented: “The whole process/programme went very smoothly. UCLan is right on our doorstep so it enabled the student to mix in the programme with her studies.” – SME beneficiary.

The business areas that the project covered included business administration (HR, finance marketing), market research, product testing/validation, social media strategies and video production. Other types of projects were also considered where the expertise could be provided by the University.

The pandemic impacted the project as there was a reduction in placements which required students to be onsite (eg manufacturing). The UNITEplus project responded to Covid-19 restrictions quickly by increasing the number of placements which could be delivered remotely, this allowed most placements to continue. There was an increase in digital marketing placements and support to widen business appeal and reach as SMEs considered new ways to access markets.

Whilst this project has closed, the University actively supports regional businesses. Find out more through our Enterprise and Engagement Unit who will review your enquiry and signpost you to the most appropriate area of continuing support.