Mersey family firms offered free places on digital programme

A new online programme that helps family-run businesses implement new technology to improve their productivity is offering free places to Liverpool city region firms. Tony McDonough reports

Prof Steve Kempster
Professor Steve Kempster, LUMS professor of leadership, learning and development


Family-run businesses in Liverpool city region are being offered fully-funded places on a new programme to help them implement digital technology.

Run by the Lancaster University Management School (LUMS), the Evolve Digital programme is aimed at family-run businesses across the North West that employ between two and 50 people.

LUMS has been chosen to deliver Evolve Digital by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and Innovate UK. The programme is part of a national research study and the outcomes will inform UK government policy on the needs of small, family businesses.

It has been designed by Professor Steve Kempster, LUMS professor of leadership, learning and development. It enables business leaders to explore how they can make their enterprises more sustainable for future generations by successfully introducing new digital tools.

Sessions are delivered online over three months for around 15 hours per month. Places are fully-funded by BEIS and Innovate UK. Participants on the programme will first explore their leadership styles and their businesses strategy, capacity and capabilities.

This provides a firm foundation on which they can go on to choose the right technology and successfully introduce it to their business.  Professor Kempster said: “The pandemic has made it clear that if we don’t shape the digitalisation of our businesses, it will shape us.

“For some companies, that perhaps didn’t have a strong focus on technology before, this shift can be really tough, and in family-run businesses, in particular, it can bring emotional as well as practical challenges.

“It means grappling with issues like ‘who has the power to make the final decision?’ and ‘is it riskier to make a change or stick with the status quo?’. There is a great deal of pressure on leaders. No one wants to be the last generation of a family business.

“Therefore, Evolve Digital is first about building leadership skills –courage, conviction and strength of character – in our participants and then supporting them to think strategically about their business objectives.”

New Evolve Digital cohorts are beginning on March 11 and May 11. To find out more, and to register interest in taking part, click here.

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