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From 7 May 2024, the North East Growth Hub is a project of the North East Combined Authority. We may still refer to "the North East Local Enterprise Partnership" (or "the North East LEP") in some of our older articles. 

In conversation with Dr Matt Sutherland, from Newcastle Business School at Northumbria University, about the Help to Grow: Management leadership programme for SMEs

Associate Professor Dr Matthew Sutherland is leading the Help to Grow: Management programme at Newcastle Business School. Here he explains how and why professional service colleagues can signpost SME clients to this unique programme, specifically designed to help them drive innovation, productivity and growth.

What is Help to Grow: Management?

It’s a highly practical and heavily subsidised leadership programme (90% of the costs are covered by government), designed to support the growth and development of SMEs in any sector or industry.

The programme is delivered over 12 weeks. It includes a mix of online sessions and face-to-face learning and it’s delivered by a team of small business experts here at the Business School, including entrepreneurs, business leaders and respected academics with significant commercial expertise.

We cover a wide range of topics – everything from finance to innovation – and the programme is specifically designed to be manageable alongside full-time work.

Who is eligible to take part?

The programme is aimed at senior managers from SMEs (5-249 employees) that have been operational for at least one year. We can accept one participant per organisation with five to nine employees, and two participants from organisations with 10+ employees.

Why do you want to raise the profile of this programme amongst professional service organisations?

In the current economic climate and following the impact of the pandemic, we know that many SMEs would welcome the opportunity to access support and training, especially at a reduced cost, to help them hone leadership skills, improve productivity, and ultimately drive innovation and growth – which is the core aim of Help to Grow.

Professional service firms, including accountants, lawyers and IT specialists, speak to their clients on a regular basis and through those relationships are likely to have a good understanding of the challenges that these small businesses are facing.

As a result, they are particularly well-placed to highlight the programme and the benefits it can bring. We’ve also had a number of past participants from SMEs in the professional services sector, who themselves have gained invaluable new skills and networks through Help to Grow.

What are the key benefits of undertaking Help to Grow?

I think the biggest benefits are the tangible outputs that participants can take away from the training. By the end of the programme, you develop a tailored growth plan to help your business achieve its full potential.

You also form a new network of peers – fellow leaders from SMEs across the region and small business experts from the University – as well being able to tap into a more extensive network of Help to Grow alumni and a programme of future events.

It’s also incredible value for leadership and management training of this kind. 90% of the programme’s costs are covered by government, so businesses pay just £750 per participant.

Where can you find out more?

Our website has everything you need to know about the programme, from eligibility criteria and case studies from other SME participants – to delivery dates, module details and a link to sign up.

But equally, we’re always happy to talk to anyone who wants to know more about the programme and I’d encourage you to get in touch with my colleague Sarah Stephenson:

More information about Help to Grow: Management is also available on the here.