Wave 2 Growth Hubs

Between September 2013 and June 2015, Lancaster University led a £32 million government programme to boost economic growth in some of England's fastest growing cities. 

Supported through the Regional Growth Fund’s City Deals (Wave 2), the programme generated 15 new ‘Growth Hubs’ to help some of the largest cities in England (and their wider areas) support local businesses and provide coordinated access to national and local business packages.

These Hubs are collectively set to create more than 4,000 new private sector jobs by 2017 and, to date, have supported over 67,000 small-and-medium sized enterprises. Each Hub created packages of support that ranged from grants and vouchers, to skills development and mentoring, to one on one signposting (or navigating) to the most appropriate support. These represented their area’s strengths for example innovation was at the core of Oxford’s delivery plan, as was manufacturing for Coventry & Warwickshire. Case studies of supported businesses that demonstrate this range of support can be found in this brochure, created for the Programme Showcase, which featured a keynote by Lord Michael Heseltine.

The Management’s School was selected to lead the programme due to its expertise in supporting SMEs and its outstanding reputation for delivering complex programmes. A dedicated Programme Secretariat was established to provide comprehensive guidance to the cities regarding RGF eligibility and the Knowledge Exchange and Research Group led the strategic direction of the programme.

Working closely with Government departments including the Cabinet Office’s Cities Policy Unit, the programme created a Growth Hub network. This brought representatives from these powerful locally based networks together to learn with each other about what works best for business growth and job creation. A series of learning events, created by the programme team, provided opportunities for the Hubs to share best practice, across their geographical boundaries, on a range of specific issues from evaluation to stakeholder engagement.  

The success of the Growth Hubs, and this programme, has resulted in the expansion of the network, to see the creation of a Growth Hub in every one of the 39 Local Enterprise Partnership areas in England, meaning that every business in the country now has access to this support.

The findings of the programme have been presented in academic journal articles, to the European Congress of Local Governments, the BIS Select Committee on ‘Government Support for Business’ and numerous conferences on regional studies and economic development. In 2015 the Academy of Management awarded the W2GH programme runner-up for its prestigious Practice Research Centre Award and in 2016 the Association to Advance Collegiate Schools of Business named the programme in their ‘Innovations that Inspire’ initiative.

For further information:

  • For more information on connected initiatives and ongoing Wave 2 research at LUMS, please contact Professor Nigel Lockett, Associate Dean Engagement.