The roles universities are seen to play have changed significantly over the last twenty-five years. The concept of higher education has, and, continues to morph from a distanced, unengaged ivory tower to a highly engaged community-based concept. Yet there is little in the literature about how universities viewed as ‘anchor institutions’ support organisations. Further, there is an omission of specific detail about the impact of universities on SMEs; they are mentioned but only in broader terms. This empirical study is based on the results of a leadership and business development intervention for fifty UK SMEs. The intervention was facilitated and delivered by a North East University we recognise to be an ‘anchor institution’. The study is longitudinal and embeds innovative composite measurement within a value creation framework with a specific focus on identifying how a North East anchored institution creates impact and value for SME owner-managers. Findings include leadership salience to SME owner-managers, increases in SME turnover, and significant gross value added. This study contributes to understanding about what the role of a university, as an anchor institution, is in terms of role, SME impact and value creation, with potential for international application.