A North East marketing training academy is aiming to expand its global reach with the help of a five-figure investment from the North East Small Loan Fund Supported by The European Regional Development Fund.

Fabric Academy creates and delivers webinars and courses for marketers at all stages of their careers which offer a hands-on, real-world approach that identifies and enhances the skills required to develop successful marketing campaigns.

Set up at the beginning of the pandemic, the Newcastle-based firm has seen more than 600 people complete its courses over the last 15 months, with candidates signing up from all over the UK and Europe, and from as far afield as the US, the Philippines, Australia and New Zealand.

The Fabric Academy management team worked with regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers to bring in the £45,000 Small Loan Fund investment, which will help to enhance its website and digital marketing activities, as well as to bring in the skilled staff needed to underpin its growth plans.

These plans include building mutually beneficial partnerships with other firms, with the first of these, which involves a London-based internship programme provider, set to be revealed in the near future.

Two new jobs are expected to be created in the coming months, with more to follow as the business expands.

Fabric Academy is part of the Scale Up North East programme, which is aimed at supporting North East-based businesses that can demonstrate both the hunger and the potential to achieve high levels of growth, and was referred to NEL by Scaleup North East partner Angelina Bell.

RTC North is delivering the Scale Up North East programme, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), in conjunction with the North East Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

Founder Lisa Eaton set up Fabric Academy after having difficulty recruiting strategic talent for her other business, marketing communications agency Unwritten.

She says: “We found that there was a real gap between the knowledge that candidates had gained through their studies and the practical skills that are required by industry, so decided to use our own knowledge and experience to start to bridge that gap.

“We spent almost a year preparing, testing and filming the content we provide, along with developing the brand and the e-learning portal through which our students access everything, and now work with both experienced and new marketers, including businesses who want to incorporate high-impact marketing into their own growth plans or support the development of their marketing team.

“The feedback we’ve had from both candidates and the employers that have booked their staff onto our courses has been universally positive, and we know there is huge potential for us to massively increase the number of students that we take on from all over the world.

“Our ambition is to see the North East become globally recognised as a centre for marketing excellence and we’re now putting the resources in place that we need to help achieve that goal.

“Being part of RTC North’s Scale Up North East programme is helping us realise our growth potential and their introduction to the NEL team has resulted in a valuable new relationship being formed.”

Jonathan Armitage, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “Lisa and her team are applying the knowledge they’ve developed through their own successful careers in an accessible programme that has a practical impact on both the marketing skills of its candidates and the commercial performance of their employers and businesses.”

Angelina Bell, partner at Scaleup North East, says: “The training solution that Fabric has developed fills a gap in the knowledge of strategic marketing that is fit for purpose and much needed by businesses that are scaling.

There are so many businesses that hire people with specific skills such as digital marketing but finding someone who can think holistically and develop a solid high level strategic plan that is right for the company is a lot more difficult.

“Fabric now needs to reach a wider audience with their offering and service more marketeers, which requires this investment being made in their company.”

Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £100,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.

It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.

The overarching £120m North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 2,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.

For more information about NEL’s investment criteria, contact the investment team on 0345 369 7007.