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Helping SMEs address digital and sustainability challenges and achieve growth

Published: 18 December 2023

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) make a significant contribution to the UK economy. Accessing new knowledge, resources and capabilities is key for SMEs to ensure that they are adapting to changing environments and developing growth strategies.

Funded by Innovate UK’s Management Knowledge Transfer Partnership (mKTP) scheme, Professor Nayak and colleagues have worked with Spearfish Security and Griffon Hoverwork Ltd to help the businesses achieve strategic transformation and creating strategies for growth.

The projects, funded by Innovate UK’s mKTP scheme, enabled the two companies to leverage academic knowledge to address their key strategic challenges. The mKTP funding enables companies to hire an Associate who works with the company and the academics to achieve knowledge transfer. By employing an Associate, the funding helps SMEs overcome the resource challenge, such as time and money, and bring new knowledge into their companies.

Spearfish Security: Building digital capabilities

Spearfish, a UK based risk management company, work with donors such as the United States Agency for International Development (USAID) and UK Foreign, Commonwealth and Development Office (FCDO) on a number of government-led international development programmes, protecting people and assets through the management of their physical security risks.

Professor Nayak and Professor Gerding worked with the Winchester-based company to develop a new digital platform. This project helped Spearfish to create new capabilities to scale their operations and increase their revenues.

KTP Case Study : Spearfish Securities

Griffon Hoverwork Ltd (GHL): Addressing clean marine opportunities

GHL is a world-leading hovercraft manufacturer. They provide military, rescue, and commercial hovercraft which operate and are supported in over 41 countries with organisations including Canadian Coast Guard, Colombian Navy and the Royal Marines.

Professor Nayak worked with the Southampton-based company to identify new strategic options in the clean marine sector. This project helped GHL to better understand the emerging clean marine industry, the role GHL could play in accelerating this transition, and diversify their revenue stream.

Projects' impact 

Through the two mKTP projects, Professor Nayak’s research has contributed to two types of real-world impact.

First, it has created knowledge impact. Spearfish and GHL have gained new knowledge and accessed resources to embed the knowledge into their businesses. SMEs can struggle to access new knowledge and training opportunities. Spearfish used the business model canvas to build a new value proposition and created an integrated web and app platform for their advisory services. GHL used strategic diversification model to identify new market entry opportunities. The Innovate UK funded mKTP route provides support to SMEs to overcome this barrier.

Second, it has created economic impact. Spearfish and GHL have developed a better understanding of their market dynamics, built new strategic capabilities, and identified new growth opportunities to increase revenues.

SMEs and universities

SMEs can benefit from collaborating with universities. There are tremendous opportunities for SMEs to leverage cutting-edge research to develop new strategies. 

New technologies, such as artificial intelligence and machine learning, and sustainability challenges, such as reducing climate-related business risks, will impact all businesses. 

Professor Nayak’s project shows that by collaborating with universities, SMEs can develop strategies for navigating the changing business environment.

I enjoy working with businesses to achieve real-world impact from my research.
My mKTP projects show that there are many benefits for companies to partner with Southampton Business School. Companies can gain access to knowledge and resources to develop new strategies for growth.
Professor of Strategic Management