This study arose from a knowledge exchange project whereby business support and knowledge exchange opportunities were provided to rural small businesses as an academic outreach programme. We review how academic support to small businesses in rural Southwest Scotland was delivered. Academic support for micro-business in Southwest Scotland is an under-researched topic. The owners volunteered to share their experiences of this support with the wider business community and university staff acted as consultants and researchers, mentoring the businesses and developing insights into rural business support. The article describes the processes and outcomes of the project, and the factors which affected the ability of the businesses to take advantage of academic business support. We utilised a case-study approach, in-depth interviews and follow-ups over a one-year period, later adding a longitudinal perspective. Our findings indicate that rural factors, business life cycle stage, sectoral skills availability along with the specific market and organisational context combine to create challenges for small business owners and impact on their ability to access and benefit from business support services. The results are significant for business engagement strategies of universities and for business support policy for small and micro-businesses in geographically isolated regions. The participant-consultant roles of the researchers facilitated the development of rich, ‘insider’ insights into this neglected topic.
|Early online date||4 Oct 2016|
|Publication status||E-pub ahead of print - 4 Oct 2016|