The UK along with many other European countries had already been struggling to meet air quality standards agreed years ago with actions by the Commission against 18 member states.Of particular note are the new standards set for Nitrogen oxides and Particulates (PM2.5) which will be especially challenging.
Good practice exists particularly for some cities in continental Europe – the problem in the UK has long been a lack of political will to deal with the problem BUT radical measures will be needed to get the UK anywhere near to these standards and so reduce the 40,000 premature deaths due to air pollution which happen in the UK every year.
GPrix project (November 2009 – February 2012) commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Good Practices in Innovation Support Measures for SMEs: facilitating transition from the traditional to the knowledge economy; Instrument: SP4-Capacities—CSA—Support Action; Call: FP7-SME-2009-1; Grant agreement Number: 245459. The website for this project, including aa very large number of deliverables etc., is currently available at http://business.staffs.ac.uk/gprix/en/index.htm
MAPEER project commissioned by the European Commission’s DG-Research. Full title: Making Progress and Economic Enhancement a Reality for SMEs. Funded under FP7-SME. Grant agreement ID: 245419. The MAPEER project website is no longer available but the results are reported in summary form on CORDIS: https://cordis.europa.eu/project/rcn/93511/factsheet/en
The two projects coordinated their questionnaire surveys to
facilitate analysis and eventual publication. Together, participants at
Staffordshire University contributed to seven publications arising from these
The GPrix project
focused on evaluating innovation support measures for SMEs in traditional
manufacturing industries. In brief, three published articles and a UNI-MERIT
Working Paper arising from the project reported that:
the estimated effects of innovation support
programs are positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and
of its commercial success;
although innovation support measures in the EU
are mostly designed to support product innovation in R&D intensive sectors,
for firms in traditional manufacturing industries a broader innovation (policy)
mix is more appropriate, including support for product innovation, process
innovation, marketing and organizational innovations (of particular
importance), together with internationalization, design and cooperation;
innovation support programmes can assist SMEs in
traditional manufacturing industry to consolidate and/or extend their
innovation ecosystems by promoting cooperation with both private and public
sector knowledge providers, suggesting that initial input and/or output
additionality from public support may be propagated and amplified by behavioural
and systemic effects; and
the number of cooperation partnerships has a positive impact on all measures of
The MAPEER project focused on innovation support for SMEs more
generally. Three articles arising from this project reported:
“European paradox” regarding SME support — i.e. success in promoting R&D
inputs but not commercialisation — is not yet mitigated;
new evidence on “open innovation” strategies, suggesting
not only some consistently positive effects, in particular from using customers
as an external knowledge source, but also that some search strategies may not
be beneficial; and
evidence that R&D support programmes have
heterogeneous effects on technology scouting – defined as firms’ use of
external knowledge sources – including a crowding-out effect on informal
sources of external knowledge but additionality with respect to formal, strategic sources.
For convenience, the abstracts of all seven contributions
are reproduced below
From the GPrix
Radicic, D., Pugh, G., Hollanders, H., Wintjes, J., and Fairburn, J. (2016). The impact of innovation support programs on small and medium enterprises innovation in traditional manufacturing industries: An evaluation for seven European Union regions. Environment and Planning C: Government and Policy, 34(8) (December): 1425-1452. First published online December 18, 2015. doi:10.1177/0263774X15621759
We evaluate the effect of innovation support programs on
output innovation by small and medium enterprises in traditional manufacturing
industry. This focus is motivated by a definition of traditional manufacturing
industry that includes capacity for innovation, and by evidence of its
continued importance in European Union employment. We conducted a survey in
seven European Union regions to generate the data needed to estimate
pre-published switching models by means of the copula approach, from which we
derived treatment effects on a wide range of innovation outputs. We find that
for participants the estimated effects of innovation support programs are
positive, typically increasing the probability of innovation and of its
commercial success by around 15%. Yet, we also find that a greater return on
public investment could have been secured by supporting firms chosen at random
from the population of innovating traditional sector small and medium
enterprises. These findings indicate the effectiveness of innovation support
programs while suggesting reform of their selection procedures.
Small and medium enterprises, evaluation, traditional
manufacturing, innovation support, innovation outputs
support measures in the EU are mostly designed to support product innovation in
R&D intensive sectors. To increase the still considerable contribution to regional
employment and competitiveness from SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries
a broader innovation (policy) mix is more appropriate. This paper draws data
from a survey of more than 300 SMEs from seven regions within the European Union,
as well as case studies, to address the question: How can innovation policy interventions
be improved to support SMEs in traditional manufacturing industries more
effectively? We claim that innovation support should be sensitive to the way SMEs
in traditional manufacturing sectors innovate and grow. We find that product innovation
(and support used for product innovation) is less likely to generate growth, than
(support used for) process innovation. Also (support used for) marketing innovations
and organizational innovations are of particular importance – together with
internationalization, design and cooperation. The increasingly selective application
procedures applied are not the most efficient to generate impact, since those
who are supported (and those who are supported more frequently), are the ones who
are most likely to take the same innovative steps anyhow, irrespective of
SMEs; traditional sectors; low-tech; policy evaluation; manufacturing; process innovation
By 2050, two-thirds of the
world’s population will live in towns and cities, resulting in the consumption
of over 70% of energy, and the emission of an equal amount of greenhouse gases
(European Commission, 2019). The Covid-19 pandemic is exacerbating the challenges
that cities have already been facing from multiple fronts such as rapid
urbanisation, digital disruptions, demographic, climate and environmental
changes, economic restructuring and reforms. Covid-19 is changing how urban
residents live, work and commute and reshaping economic structures and business
models. In the current global battle against Covid-19, smart cities have a
pivotal role to play in responding to the crisis in terms of track-and-trace of
coronavirus cases using smart technologies, enforcing social distancing rules,
getting homeless people off the streets, and special emergency measures for
care homes, to give just a few examples.
The concept of a smart city has
been seen as a strategy to tackle the grand challenges facing urban planning
and development. Smart city is a fuzzy word with various terms being used – intelligent
city, digital city, green city, knowledge city, and smart sustainable city.
Research on smart city can be traced back to the 1990s, taking on many perspectives,
mostly in four aspects: the technological aspect including the technological
infrastructure and support network for building smart cities, the
socio-cultural aspect, or citizen engagement, the political-institutional
aspect, such as government support and policies, and the economic-business
aspect, namely business models and profitability.
A team of researchers (Prof Zhao, Dr Olushola Fashola, Dr Tolulope Olarewaju and Dr Ijeoma Onwumere) at Staffordshire Business School have been investigating what has been done in smart city research over the past 20 years. After a systematic and comprehensive literature review, the research team found that smart city research tends to revolve around six key areas: digital technology diffusion, smart city strategy and implementation, supply chains and logistics, urban planning and governance, smart city entrepreneurship and innovation, and Smart city evaluation and measurement. The team also identified four major challenges for small city research: (a) smart city research is often fragmented and technology-driven; (b) many studies are on perceived benefits of smart cities and fewer on the downsides of the effect of technologies and failure projects; (c) there is a need to build new theories for smart city research; and (d) there is a lack of empirical testing of the conceptual frameworks developed in smart city research. Furthermore, the team found that there was very limited research on crisis management in smart city before 2020. However, the research landscape is changing with emerging literature investigating how smart cities respond to crises and pandemics, and exploring strategies that can be used to tackle swiftly the crisis effectively at both strategic and operational levels.
Directions for future research and practice in smart cities are proposed. If you want to know more and/or seeking for collaboration, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and Enterprise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
The British Academy (the United Kingdom’s national academy for the humanities and the social sciences) has tasked us with investigating the specific challenges that UK business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support.
We are also interested in how best to support members of the Black Asian and Minority Ethnic (BAME) business community.
To participate in our study, kindly fill the survey below and/or please share the URL with your networks if you know any other business owners:
Ethnic minorities were particularly affected by the COVID-19 pandemic in the UK and US, as in some other countries. In particular, the risk of death for some ethnic minority individuals who contracted COVID-19 in these countries was two to three times more compared to white individuals.
This disparity was a result of the underlying social and economic risk factors that ethnic minorities face, such as living in overcrowded and urban accommodation, being employed in riskier lower-skilled jobs, reduced access to healthcare, and structural racism. In other words, ethnic poverty in developed countries is driving higher infection and consequently death rates for ethnic minorities.
Despite facsimile policies that emphasize equal access to education and employment in many developed countries, discrimination remains a critical barrier to equal employment. Several studies have found that both ethnic minorities are called back for interviews 50% less frequently than comparable whites, hired less often for high-skill jobs, and once hired are paid less. Thus, despite the increasing educational gains made by ethnic minority individuals, many are overqualified for the jobs that they do. Ethnic minority workers also often report not being given pay rises and being passed over for promotion.
Another very important driver for the disproportionately high poverty rates among ethnic minority groups is the concentration of such workers in low-paid work. Ethnic minority workers are more likely to work in low-paid sectors with limited progression opportunities and lower wages. Lack of movement out of low-paid work increases the risk of poverty among ethnic groups. In addition, there is generally a lower percentage of ethnic minority workers who are managers, directors, and senior officials.
Business Ownership Disparities
Before the pandemic, BAME business owners were less likely than non-BAME business owners to obtain mainstream business support and in the early days of coronavirus, nearly two-thirds of BAME business owners felt unable to access state-backed loans and grants, leaving many on the brink of financial ruin.
BAME-owned businesses are traditionally concentrated in the sectors worst hit by lockdown such as retail, health and social care, education, restaurants and accommodation.
The economic crisis facing these businesses is aggravated by the fact that they are more likely to hire a considerable number of BAME employees and attract more BAME customers. The significantly higher risk among such groups from COVID-19 implies that these businesses would have had to incur considerable costs to protect their staff and customers.
Ethnic minorities consistently report reduced access to education, lack of social and financial capital, unemployment, low-pay, and poor progression from low-paid sector work. This suggests similar solutions for all groups, which would lead to better-quality jobs and higher pay. However, given that some of the drivers of poverty, such as higher unemployment and inactivity rates disproportionately affect ethnic groups, specific forms of outreach activity and drawing on local knowledge may be needed in these contexts.
Similarly, government solutions to reduce ethnic poverty in developed country contexts include interventions that ensure that education, training and apprenticeships are provided for ethnic minorities as well as schemes that help tackle low pay among ethnic minority workers. There is a need for policies that focus the on education, skills and training for ethnic groups particularly digital, literacy, and numeracy skills. Moreover, policies should also be encouraged that monitor the workforce in relation to ethnicity, which should include the recruitment, retention and progression phases of jobs.
Authorities need to work with employers to provide better-paid jobs and they should do more to listen to and encourage employers to hire a diverse range of skills and experiences. It is advisable to consider putting targets for ethnic minority representation on boards, something that has proven successful in the case of gender. It is also important to recognise the benefits of positive discrimination in the labour market, rather than view legislation to combat ethnic inequality as red tape or political correctness. Mortgage market discrimination needs to be eliminated as this would allow ethnic minorities to take advantage of the benefits that come with owning a home.
State-backed grants and loans should be made more accessible as an incentive to business owners who have incurred additional costs to protect customers and staff. Crucially, the process to obtain them should not be too onerous and the criteria should be fair. Regional governments should also take care to plug BAME businesses into the supply chains of local projects in response to the pandemic.
All these should reduce ethnic poverty and the economic and health inequalities that the COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted.
Staffordshire Business School
aspires to be a leader in making a real impact on business and society through
research and innovation. Our team have successfully delivered many industry/business
and government funded research projects and have extensive experience of
leading large team projects including local, UK, EU and internationally funded
projects. Many of our team members combine rich industry and practitioner
experience with academic rigour in conducting world-leading research in the
areas of entrepreneurship and innovation, digital transformation, environmental
health etc. Here are some of the exciting research projects that researchers at
Business School have been doing:
Austerity, Welfare and Work: Exploring Politics, Geographies and Inequalities
In his new book, Prof David Etherington provides bold and fresh perspectives on the link between welfare policy and employment relations as he assesses their fundamental impact on social inequalities. Drawing on international and national case studies, the book reviews developments, including rising job insecurity, low pay and geographical inequalities.
Environmental health inequalities resource package
Prof Jon Fairburn is the lead author of a recent World Health Organization publication. The publication is aimed at local, regional and national policy makers hoping to improve environmental health especially for deprived and other groups. Jon has been collaborating with WHO for over 10 years on this subject.
Covid-19 and Smart Cities – What’s Changed? Getting ahead of the Game
Prof Fang Zhao and her team have been conducting research and analysis of a range of changing scenarios of smart cities in post-Covid-19 and pinpoint the opportunities and challenges for businesses, city councils and universities. Their research focuses on strategies, tactics and digital transformation.
The Impact of COVID-19 on BAME Owned Businesses in the UK
The project led by Dr Tolulope Olarewaju is investigating the specific challenges that BAME business owners faced during the COVID-19 pandemic and lockdown, the strategies that they used to keep their businesses afloat, and how they engaged with financial and regional support. The project is funded by the British Academy.
People, Place and Global Order: Foundations of a Networked Political Economy
This book co-authored by Dr Andrew Taylor explores how the convergence of technology and globalisation is shifting value creation out of products and processes and into digital networks and, in the process, leaving many people behind. He is looking into examples and models of how people and place may flourish within global networks.
Leadership typology reveals how smart city leaders prefer to tackle inequality
The research of Associate
Professor Alyson Nicholds sheds light on how leaders, operating in different
organisations, roles and sectors prefer to tackle inequality differently. Her
latest writing draws on organisational concepts of leadership and philosophy to
show the benefits this type of understanding can reap for society.
Entrepreneurs in Residence
Business School has recently
appointed Entrepreneurs in Residence providing students and staff with hands-on
experience in conducting research to spot business opportunities, conduct market
analysis and better understand consumer behaviour, leading to business venture
For more information and collaboration
and partnership, please contact Prof Fang Zhao – Associate Dean Research and
Enterprise at email@example.com.
Fang Zhao, Professor of Innovation and Strategy & Associate Dean Research and Enterprise, Staffordshire Business School
Covid-19 outbreak is not only a global
health crisis but also an imminent economic shock. According to the Office for
Budget Responsibility (OBR), the UK economy could shrink by a record 35% by
June 2020 with over 2 million job losses. The International Monetary Fund
warned Covid-19 would push the UK into its deepest recession for a century.
For businesses, it is estimated that the
government’s lockdowns may cost 800,000 to 1 million business closures in the
UK. The sector that is affected the most and is also the most vulnerable is
small businesses which account for 96% of all businesses in the UK (Business
Statistics, 2019). To prevent the catastrophic structural economic damage and
mitigate the huge spike in unemployment, sound economic policy responses are
urgently needed, which goes far beyond government handouts.
Economic restructuring is already happening.
Cloud computing, e-commerce, online entertainment and delivery business are booming,
being inflated by a huge surge in demand while retail (e.g. shops, pubs and
restaurants) and entertainment industries (e.g. cinemas, theatres, and theme
parks) and many others are suffering from heavy losses. Policy makers are
confronting with the unprecedented daunting tasks to make strategic decisions
on how to deal with the pandemic economic restructuring and crisis.
The pandemic outbreak has fuelled disproportionately
the so-called ‘stay-at-home economy’. Working from home is becoming a new norm.
For many this is the beginning of a new life and a new way of work for years to
come. The implication for business is that it is time to rethink and reposition
existing business models, processes, and target markets because consumer
behaviours are changing fast and life will never be the same again.
Although small businesses are the hardest
hit, they are also the most agile ones. Some small businesses have already responded
and adapted quickly to market changes. For examples, some have moved their
businesses entirely online and some shifted their target market from
restaurants and hotels to individual consumers or new markets. New businesses
are also emerging surrounding the stay-at-home economy, such as virtual hair salons
and online gym classes. Over the longer term, Covid-19 has irrevocably changed
the way businesses will run and compete over the next decade.
Researchers at Staffordshire Business School are working hard to help better understand the impacts of Covid-19 on the economy and society and help policy makers develop strategies to tackle the economic fallout and revive the economy. Our staff are also conducting research on the changing behaviours of consumers due to Covid-19. For more information on our research and partnerships, please contact Professor Fang Zhao, Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Staffordshire Business School aspires to be a
leader in making a real impact on business and society through collaborative
research and innovation. Our team of academics have successfully delivered many
industry/business and government funded research projects and have extensive
experience of leading large team projects including local, UK, EU and
internationally funded projects.
Many of our team members combine rich industry and
practitioner experience with academic rigour in conducting world-leading
research and generating social and economic impacts in a wide range of areas
and fields. Our expertise includes but is not limited to the following research
streams and clusters:
Business and Management
Human Resources Management
Labour Market, Employment Relations and Migration
Organisational Change and Development
Public Sector Management
Leadership and Management Learning
Corporate Governance and Firm Performance
Corporate Social Responsibility
International Business and International Management
Place Marketing and Branding
Consumer Behaviour and Health Marketing
Merger and Acquisition
Strategic Management and Leadership
Entrepreneurship and Innovation
LGBT Tourism and Family Tourism
Digital business strategy
Digital marketing and social media
Esports business and management
Digital technology diffusion in the financial sector
Smart Cities/Communities/Urban and Regional Development
Smart cities strategy
Analysis and Evaluation of Public Policy on Urban Development (i.e. health; social care; urban education)
Community engagement and social inclusion
Environmental issues and sustainability
Our academics conduct empirical research and are
actively publishing across a range of disciplines. As such they have a long history and a
successful track record of research supervision at both MPhil and Doctoral
levels. We are excited to welcome you to join our postgraduate research student
For partnership and collaboration with us in industry-oriented
projects in both public and private sectors, please contact Professor Fang Zhao
– Associate Dean – Research and Enterprise at email@example.com.
For enquiries about our MPhil or PhD program,