A business development scheme launched in Tyneside three months ago has now been rolled out to firms across the North East.
Captured gives small firms the opportunity to spend time developing their business with hands-on support from experienced managers from larger private sector organisations. It was launched after Newcastle University Business School secured funding from the UK Commission for Employment and Skills (UKCES) to pilot the project in Tyneside.
More than 20 small businesses are already benefiting from the scheme, which has also received the backing of some of the region’s largest companies including tech specialist Sage, engineering giant Siemens and automotive component supplier Calsonic Kansei.
The popularity of the initiative has enabled the business school to extend it to firms in Teesside, County Durham and Northumberland, with a particular focus on companies in the engineering and manufacturing sectors.
Dr Fiona Whitehurst, Captured project lead at Newcastle University Business School, said: “Initial interest in the scheme has been higher than anticipated, which is why we’ve extended it to firms across the North East. The idea behind it is that we can help small business owners develop their leadership and entrepreneurial skills with support from larger organisations in the region.
“Hopefully these small businesses will be able to develop new, profitable ways of growing their business. That will enable them to create jobs and wealth for the local economy.”
One beneficiary of Captured is David McKie, a health and safety expert and founder of Think Safety Services and Solutions (TSSS). The Whitley Bay-based company offers consultancy services to help firms comply with health and safety, fire safety and environmental legislation.
After signing up to the Captured programme, David worked with Joanne Munro from Calsonic who helped him draw up a six-month business plan with measurable aims and objectives.
Mr McKie said: “Captured has raised my profile, boosted my confidence and given me the tools to become a success. What really appealed was the chance to network and link in with larger companies that have been there and done it.
“Joanne has opened doors and put me in front of key people who could help me develop my business. I’ve managed to do just that and am now working with some great clients.”
Captured is open to firms with fewer than 20 employees and aims to address the particular issues faced by small businesses at critical points in their development. After an initial workshop with other small firms, in which aims and expectations are mapped out, the small firm works with an experienced manager from a large organisation to identify opportunities, challenges and barriers to business growth.