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Business & Economy

Supporting SMEs to upskill, innovate and grow

Help to Grow: Management is a practical training programme for senior leaders in SMEs, designed to provide the key skills that will help businesses to innovate and drive future growth.

Delivered across the UK by leading business schools, SMEs in the North East can access the subsidised programme via Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University.

The focussed curriculum covers vision and values, strategy and innovation, digital adoption, employee engagement, marketing, responsible business, and financial management, as well as the development of an actionable business growth plan.

A delivery team of small business experts, handpicked to share their knowledge and expertise, includes entrepreneurs, established business leaders and respected academics.

Around 60 SMEs in the region have already completed the comprehensive 12-week course. Amongst the current cohort undertaking Help to Grow are senior leaders from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds, including construction, manufacturing, professional services, healthcare, food and drink.

Trevor Pill, executive director at Onyx Health, a growing healthcare communications agency with national and international clients, is part-way through the programme.

Trevor said: “I come from a creative design background and whilst I’ve risen through the ranks to become number two in the agency, I don’t have any formal business or leadership qualifications. So, I was keen to broaden my knowledge and gain some practical tools and tips. Our main priority as a business is to improve operationally and become more streamlined, increase productivity, and grow our profitability as a result.

He continued: “I’m finding the topics really accessible; everything is communicated in a clear, practical and no-nonsense way. The sessions are led by people with credible industry and commercial experience, so it’s all ‘real world’ stuff and directly applicable, rather than theoretical business speak – something which is very important to me.

“I’ve also found the mentoring sessions invaluable. My mentor is a great sounding board for the ideas I’m developing for the busines and can provide an objective perspective. I always leave each mentoring session with an action to take forward too.”

Dave Knowles, managing director at Alpine Online, which provides specialist data insight to clients in the grocery sector, is also seeing the benefits of the highly practical programme.

Dave said: “I’m in the process of growing my business and looking to recruit new staff. I spotted the course on LinkedIn and two things really appealed: 1. it’s a short and focussed programme – just 12 weeks – during which you can create a robust business plan from scratch and 2. it’s 90% funded by government, so it’s incredibly good value.

“I needed to better understand all aspects of running a small business and Help to Grow takes you through it step by step.”

Dave added: “As well as the more formal teaching sessions, I’m finding the peer group calls brilliant. Being able to talk through ideas and experiences in a more informal setting gives you time to reflect and sense check with other people who are growing their businesses too.

“I’d really encourage any small business owner or leader to sign up for Help to Grow. It will undoubtedly have a positive impact and is incredible value for the knowledge you gain and the expertise you can tap into. I’m also building a great regional business network as a result.”

To find out more about Help to Grow: Management, including full programme details, delivery dates and how to apply, visit –

Or to to secure a place on the programme today, visit and select Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University.