8:00 AM September 21, 2022
A new programme to help entrepreneurs and SME business leaders gain a competitive edge has been launched by Norwich Business School, part of the University of East Anglia (UEA).
The Help to Grow: Management course will provide 50 hours of leadership training over 12 weeks – with a mix of online and face-to-face learning. It will also include 10 hours of one-to-one mentoring from experienced entrepreneurs and business experts.
“I am delighted that Norwich Business School is now delivering the Help to Grow: Management course,” said professor Olga Tregaskis, head of Norwich Business School. “It builds on our success in being awarded the Small Business Charter earlier this year, in recognition of the school’s longstanding support for small businesses in the region.
“The Help to Grow: Management course is another tool we can offer SME business leaders to develop the critical skills and capabilities to grow their businesses, accessing the world-leading expertise from within Norwich Business School and a wider pool of mentors. It is an opportunity for business leaders to draw on the school’s state-of-art technologies and expertise to enhance productivity and resilience in their organisations.
“The course will also provide those involved with the opportunity to develop long-term sustainable professional networks which they can draw on as a resource in addressing the challenges and opportunities in the coming years.”
The government will fund 90pc of each participant’s course fee – making the cost per person just £750. Programme director, Dr Tiago Botelho, said this is particularly helpful at a time when SMEs and their employees are having to manage rising costs elsewhere.
“Most of what we have learned as academics and business leaders is that we always have an expectation of growth in prosperous times when we don’t have high levels of inflation,” said Dr Botelho. “But the way companies should look at the Help to Grow programme is that, actually, behind any major challenge, there is always an opportunity to be taken.
“Given that the course has 90pc of its cost covered by the government, this is the perfect tool for them to actually understand the risks associated with growth and the best ways to hedge the risks in very stormy waters – so they can take the best decisions possible.”
The Help to Grow: Management course is open to senior leaders in UK-based SMEs that have been operating for over a year with between 5 and 249 employees. Dr Botelho said many companies of this size often need support to take the next step in their growth journey – and that the course has been developed with this in mind.
“Businesses are often able to grow to a particular level, and then the next jump seems too far for them,” he explained. “You just need to look at the numbers indicated by the Scale Up Institute – we are speaking about very low numbers of SMEs in the UK that are actually able to scale up.
“By spending 50 hours being trained online and face to face, they are able to get a skill set that can enhance the possibility of growth. That is the main goal of this programme.”
The course covers four main areas, Dr Botelho added. “The first part is understanding what a company actually does, and its strategies for growth and innovation,” he said. “Then it moves on to how the company engages with customers and how to build a business in a sustainable way – and lastly, how to implement this by looking at the operations and financial strategies.”
Norwich Business School is one of a small number of business schools in the UK offering the Help to Grow: Management programme. Dr Botelho believes the range of expertise at the business school makes it one of the best places to take the course.
“Some business schools are very strong in particular areas – our strength is in the depth and breadth of experts that we have,” he said.
“For several years, we have run a master’s in Enterprise and Business Creation – so we were already doing very similar things to the Help to Grow programme. We also have the Low Carbon Innovation Fund within UEA, so we have a lot of connections within the entrepreneurial ecosystem.”
In January 2022, Norwich Business School was awarded Small Business Charter (SBC) status, in recognition of its expertise in supporting small businesses, student entrepreneurship and the local economy.
“It’s a clear sign to everyone that we know what we’re doing,” said Dr Botelho. “It’s positive recognition that we have experts in this particular field, and gives us internal validation that we have a lot of impact in the SME community.
“We don’t just teach entrepreneurship for the sake of it – we’re actually quite involved.”
Those taking the Help to Grow: Management course will also have access to a number of business mentors – complementing the expertise on offer within Norwich Business School.
“When we speak about the mentors, we are speaking about former or current entrepreneurs,” said Dr Botelho. “One thing is what the course delivers in the classroom or in the online learning environment – the other thing is actually having someone who has done it, worn the t-shirt, and can explain the challenges involved in growth.”
On a personal level, Dr Botelho is excited about leading the course as it will give him a chance to meet and support more of the region’s business talent.
“I’m not from Norfolk, but I have learned to love the region,” he said. “My second child was born here, and I train a local village football team, so being able to contribute to growth within the region is something that I’m really looking forward to.”
Norwich Business School is planning to start the first cohort of the Help to Grow: Management course in the week commencing October 31 – and is aiming to start four cohorts by March 2023. The maximum size of each cohort is 25 people.
Find out more
On Wednesday, September 21, Norwich Business School is holding an event where people can learn more about the Help to Grow: Management programme. The event will take place from 5.30-8.30pm at The Enterprise Centre at UEA, and there will also be a livestream available.
Professor Olga Tregaskis and Dr Tiago Botelho will both speak at the event. They will be joined by Joan Zhou, regional business development specialist at Innovate UK EDGE.
To register for the event, please visit www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/ueas-help-to-grow-management-course-launch-tickets-399459232317
For more information about the Help to Grow: Management programme, please email [email protected]