The Digitally Enabled Business Clinic: Final 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. Digital marketing was tested to attract low to mid productivity SMEs and deliver free consultancy services. Overall, 47 consultancy projects were delivered to clients via the DEBC. These were evaluated using 60 client interviews, in two stages, and 47 client quantitative surveys. 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. DEBC projects also sparked innovation, with clients identifying a total of 8 market strategy, 3 service design and 3 business process innovations. The total value of all 47 DEBC projects, based on the survey results, is £243,178. However, the findings also reveal referrals and attending networking events may be a more cost-effective means of attracting clients than digital marketing approaches. In summary, the DEBC has been a phenomenal success. The model has generated £243,178 worth of consultancy for low productivity SMEs using an initial investment of just over £42,000. Areas for improvement are outlined, including greater requirements for the amount of student-client interaction and more cost-effective means of recruiting clients. Finally, important next steps are outlined so InnovateUK has a clear roadmap to test a full-trial of the DEBC. Thanks must go to the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Business Basics programme and Innovate UK for which this proof concept would not have been possible without.
Original languageEnglish
Place of PublicationNewcastle Upon Tyne
PublisherNorthumbria University
Commissioning bodyDepartment for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy
Number of pages25
Publication statusPublished - 1 Jul 2019


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