Aston leads on business performance research

Professor Mark Hart
Professor Mark Hart, Economics & Strategy Group, Aston Business School

25 March 2011

Aston Business School has been awarded a £49,000 grant to carry out further research into High Growth Firms, or HGFs. This will enable Aston to further strengthen its position as a lead research group on HGFs in the country.

Aston research shows that just seven per cent of UK businesses are classed as high-growth in the 2007-10 period, yet they are responsible for creating over half of all new jobs.

The funding from the National Endowment for Science, Technology and the Arts (NESTA), will enable Professor Mark Hart and his seven-strong team in the Economics & Strategy Group at Aston to better understand why HGFs:  (1) are more resilient than non-high growth businesses and have markedly less insolvency rates (2) are more likely to increase sales and employment (3) why the share they had of the market remains same during the recessionary period, and (4) why they remain the most important source of job creation.

Professor Hart’s latest findings, which are part of a new NESTA report, ‘Vital growth: the importance of HGFs to the recovery’, argues that because of their crucial role in creating jobs and their resilience during tough economic times, there is a need to understand more clearly the factors driving growth in these firms.

Leading researcher Professor Hart said:

“I am grateful to NESTA for giving Aston Business School the opportunity to expand on our previous research into high-growth firms. We need to understand precisely their contribution to the UK economy”

The new research will focus on the following five strands: (1) Characteristics of UK HGFs (2) Financing of UK HGFs (3) HGFs in the innovation eco-system (4) Examining the relationship between firm dynamics and productivity growth (5) Identification of UK HGFs during the recession.

Stian Westlake, Director of Policy and Research at NESTA, said:

Stian Westlake
Stian Westlake, Director of Policy and Research at NESTA

“The team at Aston has played a vital role in helping us understand where growth will come from in the future, something that is of critical importance to business leaders and policymakers alike. We look forward to working with Aston’s highly experienced team to learn more about the characteristics of these crucial businesses.”

Separately, Professor Hart and his colleagues have been working on other research around HGFs, commissioned by Birmingham City Council, UK Trade and Investment (UKTI) and UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES).

In addition, Professor Hart has been working with the Enterprise Directorate of the Department for Business Innovation and Skills (BIS) to use his research to inform their metrics on the Bigger, Better Business strategy which was launched in January 2011.

To find out more visit the NESTA website

For all media enquiries, please contact Dhiren Katwa, Press Officer at Aston Business School, on 0121 204 4954 or email