Helping small to medium enterprises (SMEs) realise their full potential.

The Research

Creating and maintaining a successful business isn’t just about having a big idea. Finance, funding and additional factors play a make-or-break role in a business of any size.

Lending to new businesses is a priority for governments but many small to medium businesses and entrepreneurs still struggle to find the funding they need to start up and expand. This led Bournemouth University’s Professor Jens Hölscher to investigate the barriers to finance. 

What began as a one-day conference on access to finance in Bournemouth developed into a series of finance-related seminars across the continent supported by research and academic discussion. Each seminar covers specific problem areas, and possible solutions, in obtaining finance for growing enterprises - from gender and ethnicity issues in obtaining capital growth funding, to risk, equity and European finance. 

The project is an international collaboration, consisting of BU academics Professor Jens Hölscher and Professor Dean Patton along with colleagues from universities across the UK and in Germany. Researchers from the University of Birmingham, University of Brighton, Aston University and the University of Nottingham, along with the University of Perugia in Italy and the Technical University of Freiberg in Germany, are contributing to the project.

Now midway through, the sessions - which are financed by a successful bid to the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) - also include a number of bursaries for PhD students, involving students at the very heart of the research. 

The Academic

Professor Jens Hölscher, Head of Department for Accounting, Finance & Economics

My research interests include the dynamics of risk, so I find it interesting looking at how that is assessed for small to medium enterprises.

The financial sector is strong here in Dorset and we have their support on the project and I thought we could reach out further than just Bournemouth.

Our aim is to make an impact and we intend to reach out to policy makers who can actually make a difference to how business finance is risk assessed. 

The Student

Mary Nanyondo, PhD student 

This project was in line with my PhD studies, so I was able to write my transfer document and have it examined in only 12 months, which was fantastic. I was able to dig deep into SME finance operations, and was pleased to help develop the ‘applied and received’ approach, which I feel will be useful for all researchers with an interest in SME finance. I was also able to develop two papers whilst working as part of the project.

The Impact

Nick Gregory, Investment Specialist, Dorset Growth Hub 

The financial crash of 2008 forced banks into an extreme risk-averse scenario, and accessing finance for new and existing businesses became very difficult.

BU's research and seminar programmes have been explaining the effect on potential entrepreneurs who no longer choose to use traditional banks. They have also succeeded in identifying the changing face of business finance for SMEs.

Overall the research results have been very informative and gone a long way to highlighting where businesses seeking to start up and grow should look for funding.