Businesses across the West Midlands are to receive a shot in the arm with the New Year launch of a £2.9 million university research initiative aimed at SMEs.

Aston and Warwick Universities have been chosen to host a new Enterprise Research Centre that will help develop understanding of business investment, performance and growth.

The new £2.9 million centre will become a national and international focal point for research, knowledge and expertise on SMEs.

A key objective of the Centre, which launches on 1 January 2013, will be to provide policy-makers and SME managers with the evidence they need to make decisions on growth and development in the UK.

Mark Hart, Deputy Director of the new Centre and Professor of Business and Entrepreneurship at Aston Business School, said; “This is a unique opportunity to further strengthen our high-profile work on small firm growth at Aston and we look forward to working with our national partners to undertake some ground-breaking research projects to establish the Centre as the leading international voice for small business research.

“We have an exciting research programme set out on various aspects of small business growth and we will be working with our funders to ensure it can inform the ways in which they can work together to deliver more growth in the sector.”

Business and Enterprise Minister Michael Fallon, who announced the successful Aston and Warwick Centre partnership at the start of Global Entrepreneurship Week UK said: “By collaborating with partners and bringing together leading academics, the new Enterprise Research Centre will be able to formulate long term policy that will help to stimulate economic growth.”

Aston University Vice Chancellor, Professor Dame Julia King, said: “This Enterprise Centre reinforces the fact that Birmingham is a place where business can flourish. It also recognises that Aston Business School is a global leader in the understanding and nurturing of high-growth firms.”