University of Manchester: New AMBS partnership to support SME’s post-pandemic recovery

Support for SMEs in Greater Manchester to bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic is to be accelerated by a new collaboration between Alliance Manchester Business School and other leading business schools in the region.

Open SME is a free, on-demand online learning programme for SME leaders that aims to give them the tools they need to grow their business beyond the pandemic. The programme has been developed in partnership between the University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, Salford University, the University of Bolton, and the Business Growth Hub, and is funded by Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA).

The programme, which will be self-directed by the business owners, aims to help at least 400 SMEs, particularly from under-represented areas in Greater Manchester, to increase productivity, profitability, resilience, and sustainability. The scheme will also establish 250 longer-term mentoring relationships.

Prof Fiona Devine, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School, said: “Alliance Manchester Business School is very proud to partner with Manchester Metropolitan University, University of Bolton, and the University of Salford on the OPEN SME programme.”

“We’d like to thank the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Growth Business Hub for supporting this strategically important initiative.


Professor Fiona Devine CBE, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School
The programme has been developed from research investigating the barriers to learning for small businesses located in Greater Manchester. It provides on-demand learning that will enable participants to develop skills that they can put into practice in their business. The programme will support senior managers of small and medium sized companies to boost their business’ performance, resilience, and long-term growth.

Professor Fiona Devine CBE, Head of Alliance Manchester Business School


Open SME forms part of Greater Manchester Leadership Hive, a new resource for SME leaders who want to grow their business and become more profitable. Delivered by Greater Manchester’s leading university business schools and the Business Growth Hub, the Leadership Hive brings the best leadership and management training available in the region together in one place.

Joanne Roney, Greater Manchester Combined Authority (GMCA) Lead Chief Executive for Economy and Business, said: “The launch of Open SME is fantastic news for SMEs in Greater Manchester.

“The programme takes the wealth of knowledge and expertise that exists in our world-class business schools and makes it available to the wider business community. Open SME is free of charge and easy to access, with modules completed at a pace to suit you.

“SMEs will help drive Greater Manchester’s economic recovery from the pandemic, so it’s vital that we find creative and effective ways to support them. Our Economic Vision for Greater Manchester includes help for small businesses to grow, wherever they are based, so that we can build a greener, fairer, more prosperous city-region. We encourage all business leaders who could benefit from Open SME to get in touch to learn more.”

Open SME is an online portal, allowing business owners and managers to work their way through several modules in the areas of finance, digital and markets and models at their own pace.

The universities will work closely with referral and delivery partner GC Business Growth Hub and will draw on the best experts from all partners to develop the content.

Sustainability and inclusivity will be embedded throughout the programme, with Greater Manchester’s 2038 carbon neutrality goal in mind.

Janine Smith, Director of Business Growth at GC Business Growth Hub, said: “Many SMEs have endured a tough couple of years and the business environment is still challenging, so it’s right that we’re doing all we can to support them as they navigate their companies across unfamiliar/changing business landscapes.

“We’re really excited to be working with Greater Manchester’s outstanding business schools to apply their knowledge and expertise; helping SMEs across Greater Manchester, and in turn benefiting the city-region’s wider economy.

“Through the delivery of on demand training that aims to increase productivity, profitability, resilience, and sustainability, the Greater Manchester Leadership Hive and Open SME will provide the best leadership and management support that Greater Manchester can offer.”

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