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£600k to help business in East’s hinterlands

Published: 29 July 2019 at 14:30

Two farmers

Anglia Ruskin will use money to help small businesses in isolated areas

Anglia Ruskin University (ARU) plans to help small businesses in isolated areas unlock their potential, thanks to more than £600k of funding.

The Futures by Design project will see ARU’s Faculty of Business and Law work as part of an international partnership of industry, business, government and universities to research and develop a practical business-led focus on digital knowledge transfer, horizon scanning and data analytics skills needs of SMEs.

With a total budget of £620,000 from the EU Interreg North Sea Region, the project aims to spread prosperity and social benefit for communities that are not well connected and have subsequently struggled to see business growth, such as parts of Fenland in Cambridgeshire.

Across six similar regions across northern Europe, SMEs will be directly involved in understanding the problems and opportunities for increased digitisation and knowledge sharing, and explore new ways of how their business operations may become more effective and efficient.

ARU’s Dr David Arkell, who led on the bid, said:

“There are many ways small businesses can benefit from this project. For example, an agri-tech company supplying parts for farmers in Fenland may be attracted by the prospect to grow its export market to similar regions of need in the UK or overseas. For this to happen, embracing the digital techniques, skills and knowhow alongside equipment is crucial – Futures By Design will introduce solutions to such SMEs.

“This research-development project plays to ARU’s strength and identity as a regional university - leading on growth and prosperity - working closely with business and communities for economic and social outcomes and impact.”

The Futures by Design project is part of ARU’s growing cluster of research and projects centred around the UK’s Industrial Strategy and the promotion of new research paradigms supporting the so-called Industry 4.0, and the harnessing of digitisation in industry and business, and impacting on all parts of our lives.