Posted on Tuesday 4 December 2012 by Ulster Business

Smecentre

Representatives from the four main business organisations help Prof. Pauric McGowan and Prof. Marie McHugh launch the new SME centre.

The integral role played by SMEs in the growth of the local economy has been recognised by the University of Ulster's Business School, which has launched a dedicated Centre for SME Development.

Headed up by Professor Pauric McGowan and with endorsement from the Northern Ireland branches of CBI, IoD, FSB and the Chamber of Commerce, the new Centre aims to help SMEs achieve business goals through programmes to boost business performance and by facilitating leadership and management development.

Professor Marie McHugh, Dean of the Ulster Business School, said: "SMEs make up almost 95% of businesses in Northern Ireland. The performance of these companies is crucial to the performance of the local economy as a whole in terms of output, value added, productivity, innovation and employment. This is particularly pertinent at present with losses of public sector jobs and the need to rebuild and rebalance the economy through private sector growth. Investing in SMEs that are capable of contributing to the regional economy through export growth and employment creation is central to Northern Ireland's economic future. With 40 years' experience in fostering the development of local businesses, the Ulster Business School is perfectly positioned to help government drive this important SME agenda and we would encourage SMEs to take maximum advantage of the new Centre and its services."

The Centre for SME Development will provide a range of support activities, development programmes and events delivered by the Ulster Business School's staff complemented by visiting lecturers and sectoral experts. Masterclasses, short courses, business mentoring and coaching will be offered as well as extended Business Development Programmes, work placements and knowledge transfer activities.

Professor Pauric McGowan, Director of the Centre for SME Development, said: "Too often SMEs are categorised as 'little big businesses' and development is offered in a one-size-fits-all approach. We firmly believe that SMEs deserve bespoke forms of support and as such we have worked closely with a vast range of key professional bodies and government agencies to ensure that the new Centre is relevant, inspirational and capable of delivering tangible results. An Advisory Board has also been established under the chairmanship of Professor Ken O'Neill to oversee and support the work of the Centre."

Further information about The Centre for SME Development is available now at www.business.ulster.ac.uk/sme. Programmes and events will begin early next year with a Small Business Development Programme and an Entrepreneurial Marketing in Practice Programme scheduled for Easter.

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