Published on 10/05/2021
Shipping containers in an port
  • Aston Business School researcher Ankita Tibrewal found SMEs making use of languages have 30% better success in exporting
  • The results form part of the LO-C 30 Report which looks at how language capabilities can aid the internationalisation of UK SMEs
  • It is the first comprehensive, country-wide quantitative research study of its kind.

New research from Aston University has found language capabilities are a key driver for boosting exports for UK SMEs.

The results of the research, presented in the LO-C 30 Report published by the Association of Translation Companies, reveal that SMEs making use of language capabilities are 30% more successful in exporting than those who do not.

Aston Business School researcher Ankita Tibrewal’s quantitative research on 415 UK SMEs across different sectors examines their organisational-level language capacity and its drivers through statistical analysis and modelling.

The research analyses the impact of language capacity (LO-C) on companies’ export performance and identifies key drivers that facilitate LO-C within an SME.

LO-C, a key concept within the research, indicates the company’s motivation, preparedness and attitudes towards developing language-related capabilities, as well as the actual use of available language capabilities.

SMEs play a critical role in the UK economy, and their contribution increases year on year. SME companies represent 99.9% of the business population with six million businesses and around half of all turnover in the UK’s private sector. SMEs employ 16.8 million people, 61% of the total workforce.

The LO-C 30 Report is the first comprehensive, country-wide quantitative research study investigating how language capabilities at an organisational level can facilitate the internationalisation of UK SMEs.

Dr Geoff Parkes, senior lecturer at Aston Business School, said:

“Previous academic research on UK companies has shown a strong link between exporting and growth and, for SMEs, a key way to generate growth is through exporting products and services to international markets. 

“The results of the research strongly indicate that SMEs can significantly increase their export sales, growth and profits by hiring people with language skills and high cultural intelligence, providing language training to existing staff and investing in professional translation services using sophisticated language technology.”

Raisa McNab, CEO at the Association of Translation Companies, said:

“SMEs have had a really hard time adapting to the challenges brought on by Brexit and the Covid pandemic, and we haven’t had any good news for a while. Language services are a very easy, accessible way to drive international growth, and the LO-C 30 Report shows that the returns can be significant.”

You can read the full LO-C 30 report here.

Notes to Editors

The LO-C 30 research has been jointly funded by Aston Business School and the Association of Translation Companies, and is accompanied by Talk Global Advisor, an online diagnostics tool for SMEs to assess their readiness to increase international sales and profits.

Aston Centre for Growth offers leading growth programmes and other opportunities for SME owners looking to grow their business. Aston Centre for Growth works with SMEs to support their business growth, with investment ready pitching competitions, through its student focused start-up support and incubation centre and on high profile programmes such as Goldman Sachs 10,000 Small Businesses.

Language services, translation and interpreting drive global growth and support UK companies’ internationalisation activities. The Association of Translation Companies is the leading voice for companies operating in the UK’s language services industry. ATC membership is recognised as a mark of quality-managed service, and the ATC’s Member Directory lists language service companies offering translation and interpreting in all sectors and languages.

About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students. Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

Aston University was named University of the Year 2020 by The Guardian and the University’s full time MBA programme has been ranked in the top 100 in the world in the Economist MBA 2021 ranking. The Aston MBA has been ranked 12th in the UK and 85th in the world. The University also has TEF Gold status in the Teaching Excellence Framework. 

For media inquiries in relation to this release, contact Sam Cook, Press and Communications Manager, on (+44)7446 910063 or email:

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