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Teesside University helping small businesses to grow

02 June 2014 @TeesUniNews


Small businesses in the region are being helped to reach their potential with the assistance of Teesside University.

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Back row (from left): Mike Baum, Sim Hall and Dave Chapman. Front row (from left): Rob Skene and Michelle Atkins

Back row (from left): Mike Baum, Sim Hall and Dave Chapman. Front row (from left): Rob Skene and Michelle Atkins

The University is helping Small to Medium-sized Enterprises (SMEs) as part of the first cohort of its Leading Growth programme.

The programme has been developed after Teesside University leveraged £400,000 of European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funding to provide free leadership development for eligible businesses.

Applications are now being invited for the next cohort of businesses to take part in the scheme, starting in September.

The programme, which lasts nine months, is designed to help SME owner-managers improve their leadership skills and take their businesses to the next level.

It consists of a two-day residential event, a series of think tanks, as well as one-to-one business coaching, action learning, observational site visits and business exchanges.

The programme has been carefully developed by University experts to ensure there is a rigorous approach to development and rich content which includes input from inspirational industry leaders.

Michelle Atkins, the Leading Growth Project Manager, said: 'The prime aim is to improve the leadership skills of owner-managers which will have a direct effect on the bottom line of their business.

'Hopefully it will allow them to take a step back from the day to day aspect of their company and focus on the strategic direction of the business.'

Participants in the programme have said it is already having an impact on their work.

Sim Hall, from Darlington-based recruitment specialists Populus Select, said: 'With the business growing, I wanted to ensure I had the necessary skills to keep it growing even further. I’m very excited about how the course is developing.'

Mike Baum, from Harrison Packaging in Stockton added: 'We’ve grown quite rapidly and this arms me with the skills to continue that growth and prevent the company from reaching an impasse.

'What I find very important is that there’s a really good mix of people from different backgrounds taking part which makes it even more effective.'

Rob Skene from animation company Yellow Snow Studio, which is based in one of Teesside University’s start-up units at the Victoria Building in Middlesbrough, said: 'I’m part of a small team and I don’t know how to get over that hurdle of going from three people to 13 or 14 staff and how to get to that stage.

'This will help us to do that. It’s great to be around lots of people who have the same aim but from a very diverse range of companies.'

Dave Chapman, from Yummm Ltd in Stockton, added: 'We’re a relatively new company which has experienced a very fast growth and we’ve got some strong plans for the future.

'We don’t want the business to grow without us having the skills to deal with that growth. This is an excellent opportunity to develop my skills further and become a better leader.'

Councillor Neil Foster, Deputy Chair of the North East ERDF Local Management Committee, said: 'Investing ERDF in this latest Teesside University project is excellent news as it will increase the growth and competitiveness of existing SMEs who will be supported to develop their skills and expertise to drive growth and create jobs, benefiting the local economy.'

Anybody interested in taking part in the next cohort of the Leading Growth programme can contact Michelle Atkins at

In the News

SMEs to benefit from university programme
The Journal, 31/05/14, P.75
North East SMEs are being encouraged to take advantage of a support programme run by Teesside University.

Growth scheme helps small firms flourish
Evening Gazette, 02/06/14, P.12; Gazette Live - Online, 02/06/14
Small firms in the region are being helped to reach their potential with support from Teesside University.