New research grant to “shock-proof” small businesses during pandemic

Two PSB professors are recipients of a Shock-Proofing the Future of Work research grant from the Ottawa-funded Future Skills Centre to help build skills and resiliency for small-business owners hit hard by COVID-19.

Garrett Hall and Dr. Sujinda Hwang-Leslie, PSB professors and co-investigators on the project, have partnered with Sheridan’s EDGE Entrepreneurship Hub on the two-year initiative, entitled: “Building Small Business Resilience (BSBR) Digital Marketing Prototype.” The grant is worth $154,200.

“This research project will develop an adult training prototype using hands-on, experiential learning platforms to help support skill development among business owners and prepare them for potential future impacts,”

Dr. Sujinda Hwang-Leslie.

BSBR will enhance the digital marketing capabilities of small business owners that have been forced to pivot online due to the COVID-19 pandemic. It also aims to create a research-informed digital marketing program prototype to increase equitable, diverse and inclusive participation in small business sectors.

“The COVID-19 pandemic has disproportionately impacted businesses led by founders from underrepresented communities due to the existing economic and social barriers they face,” said Garrett Hall.

“This research project will develop an adult training prototype using hands-on, experiential learning platforms to help support skill development among business owners and prepare them for potential future impacts,” added Dr. Sujinda Hwang-Leslie.

Participants in the BSBR research project will be able to develop and execute a digital marketing campaign plan suited to their own business and customer base. They will also learn to identify elements of success and failure in their digital marketing plans and make necessary changes to optimize results.

As one of Sheridan’s six Research and Incubation Centres, EDGE is an inclusive hub for aspiring entrepreneurs and changemakers to connect, learn and work. With hub spaces in Mississauga and Brampton, Ontario, EDGE fosters the development of impact-focused entrepreneurship skills through funding, learning opportunities, mentorship and access to co-working space.

“We’re grateful for Future Skills Centre’s support for this important project,” said Renee Devereaux, director of EDGE. “EDGE is a gateway to Sheridan resources and expertise for the start-up and impact entrepreneurship communities. This partnership with the Pilon School of Business is a great example of how Sheridan is collaborating to better understand and support growing ventures.”

Learning outcomes from this project will be applied to curriculum and program development in the Pilon School of Business, Continuing and Professional Studies and at EDGE.

“We’re thrilled that Sheridan has received this new award for an innovative project that responds to a necessary need within the small business community during and post-pandemic,” said Dr. Vicki Mowat, director of research at Sheridan. “The collaboration between the Pilon School of Business and EDGE has enabled us to recognize timely needs in the community, bringing together research, business marketing and entrepreneurship in an impactful way.”

Pedro Barata, executive director of the Future Skills Centre, says that enhancing the digital marketing capability of small business owners will support these enterprises, address vital skill gaps and build resilience.

“This is just one of the exciting shock-proofing projects that FSC is investing in to build a future playbook for shared prosperity, and help Canadian workers and businesses seize opportunities in our future economy,” said Barata.

BSBR is funded by the government of Canada Future Skills Centre. For more information on the project please visit www.digitalmarketingresearch.ca.

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