This international research project, based on the work of a consortium of five European countries led by the University of Salford in the area of Enterprise Cultural Heritage (ECH), (the term describing an organisation’s history and its creations that have the potential to uniquely innovate and differentiate their products and services), demonstrates the following impact:
- Developing and integrating the ECH training concept in Change Management, Brand Management, Heritage Management and Intellectual Property Rights training material in five languages;
- Developing online training material under Creative Commons Attribution License for free use and re-distribution available through social media such as SlideShare and Wikipedia, accessed c.30,000 times.
Helping businesses use their heritage to increase their market share
Salford Business School has, over several years, applied research to helping SMEs become more competitive by leveraging their unique capabilities and specialities, for example in the Quality and innovation in vocational training for Enterprise Cultural Heritage Management project, which was led by Dr Aleksej Heinze. Fundamental understanding of the theoretical concept of Enterprise Cultural Heritage has transformed the commercial viability of European SMEs by unlocking their heritage. Translation into Italian, Czech, Greek and Finnish facilitates its use throughout Europe:
- Enterprise Cultural Heritage (ECH) is a complex combination of a company’s own history and creations that can transform information and materials into extended products and services. Effective ECH management can increase creativity in production and knowledge management skills, boosting the productivity of those SMEs with a rich history. The training material created by the project helps SMEs to identify and exploit the economic added value of their cultural heritage. ECH as a topic is entirely novel in the area of vocational training. The research closes the gap to open accessible knowledge by making free training material that integrates examples of good ECH management available to all companies with an internet connection.
- ECH management enhances the competitiveness of SMEs. The project focused on mature (40+ years of trading) SMEs in craft sectors (food, textiles, ceramics and jewellery). During the project it was soon evident that other sectors can benefit as long as they have ECH.
- The international consortium from 5 countries (Czech Republic, Greece, Finland, Italy and UK), spanning the geopolitical regions of EU (South, West, Scandinavia, post-socialist areas) and industry and academia, contributed complementary specialist skills in research, training material development, validation, linkage with SMEs and Information Communication Technology (ICT) competences. A key aim has been to produce outputs relevant to SMEs. This combination of competencies and perspectives has transformed a series of ECH case studies into a rich resource of commercial training materials used worldwide.
- SMEs that have traditionally operated without access to specialised training to promote higher performance have been given access through an open web community to innovative new training that opens pathways for new practices; over thirty thousand individuals have accessed the training material.
- Entrepreneurs have recognised and managed the strategic value of ECH by developing new skills based on the creative use of heritage knowledge and by developing and integrating complementary technical and marketing competences: “The training material gives a great opportunity to many organisations to exploit their cultural heritage instead of "throwing it away" in the name of modernisation” (SME partner).
- ECH has obtained affiliation to the Natural Europe project to foster training on traditional ways of farming and "environment-friendly" practices in specific agriculture sectors. The training material developed will support environmental education and has also obtained affiliation to the ARIADNE Foundation and is now expanding worldwide through a network of institutions and projects.
- Passport to Trade 2.0, an ECH spin-off, engages business culture business culture in the use of social media and extends our worldwide impact of innovation in SMEs.