The Digitally Enabled Business Clinic: A How-To Guide

Ed Cottam, Nigel Coates

Research output: Book/ReportCommissioned report

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The Digitally Enabled Business Clinic (DEBC) builds on the success of Northumbria University's Business Clinic (BC). The DEBC enables businesses to engage with university students and access free business consultancy, providing the latest knowledge from a range of disciplines and leading to positive business outcomes. We have created, tested and evaluated a digitally enabled model of the BC, which could enable the highly successful BC approach to be implemented quickly and cost-effectively by other universities. Findings revealed clients valued the average consultancy project at £5,174, moreover these projects enhanced business productivity, and stimulated technology and modern business practice adoption. The project also tested the viability of using
digital marketing to attract low to mid productivity SMEs to our free consultancy services. The project reached 47 SMEs of low to medium productivity, providing an opportunity to tap into the perspective of 'young eyes' from our motivated and innovative Business School students. The DEBC provides a cross-functional range of advice (including digital marketing, finance, strategic management) through digital media and tools, removing the need for costly physical
infrastructure. What made this project innovative is that we tested an alternative digitally-enabled model, which could be quickly scaled up. The project was used to determine whether the DEBC concept is a cost-effective way for SMEs to interact with a local university, gain pro-bono neutral advice, access state of the art knowledge and have the added value of the younger generation perspective. We monitored the reach, uptake and impact on business outcomes. This ‘how to’ guide for implementing a DEBC provides a step by step roadmap for the formation of DEBCs in other regions. The UK industrial strategy aims to support universities and businesses working together to innovate. Rolling out a network of DEBCs would be an innovative mechanism enabling UK businesses to easily connect with and benefit from existing technologies, new knowledge, insights and fresh perspectives of university business schools.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNewcastle Upon Tyne
PublisherNorthumbria University
Commissioning bodyDepartment for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Number of pages41
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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