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North East LEP appoints business expert to boost growth

The North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has added an experienced business expert to help boost the number of scaling businesses in the North East.

Justin Souter, managing director at business improvement consultancy Souter Consulting, has been appointed as Growth Hub connector, with the aim of connecting more entrepreneurs with available support programmes.

The North East LEP has identified increasing the rate of scaling start-ups that can go on to employ others and grow as a key factor in driving the density of scale-up businesses.

It’s an important step forward in the LEP’s efforts to reach a scale-up density in the region of 50 per cent by 2024, a target set in the organisation’s ambitious North East Strategic Economic Plan.

Colin Bell, business growth director at the North East LEP, said: “Justin has a lot of experience working with early stage founders and corporate innovators to help them scale their businesses and develop the skills they need to continue that growth.

“Fast growing businesses are really important for our economy because they generate one third of new economic opportunities and encourage more job growth, and they also tend to operate in international markets and drive innovation in their sectors.”

One of the support programmes that are available to entrepreneurs is the LEP’s own High Potential Start-Ups, which provides those with a scalable business idea access to workshops, coaching, and mentoring so they can achieve more success than if they were going solo.

They also receive introductions to potential investors and the offer of a grant to help get their business started.

Justin said: “There has been a huge amount of interest in the High Potential Start-Ups programme from very ambitious and talented entrepreneurs in our region. It’s shown there are some fantastic business ideas out there.

“As someone that has started and scaled their own business, I know how difficult it can be to take that initial leap. High Potential Start-Ups is all about providing the help and support people need to test their ideas, understand their customers and take their business to market.”

The first High Potential Start-Ups programme begins in October 2019, while applications for the next intake will open in February 2020, with the second intake starting in May.