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Nottingham Business School celebrates SME support

At Nottingham Business School (NBS), we are proud of the range and impact of the support we have delivered to small businesses over recent years, but especially since the beginning of the Covid-19 pandemic. In spite of the economic challenges faced by small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the challenges of supporting clients online, NBS is celebrating three major project milestones in the first few months of 2021.

Small Business Leadership Programme

Small Business Leadership Programme: 6th cohort in six months

The Small Business Leadership Programme was created specifically to help established SMEs build resilience, tackle the challenges they’re facing during Covid-19, and drive future growth. The programme is fully funded by the Government, who have partnered with the Small Business Charter (SBC), and is being delivered by business schools across the country, including NBS. The programme, designed to fit in with day-to-day business delivery, covers a range of practical topics and is delivered online by small business experts – including entrepreneurs, business leaders and academics. In just five months, NBS has engaged over 130 SMEs from across the East of England, of which, over 100 started the course and almost 80% have now completed the programme. What’s more, feedback has been excellent, with one participant stating: “The course from start to finish has been very well crafted, the content well thought through and delivered by exceptionally well trained and highly regarded people in their respective fields. What we ended up with was nothing short of excellence.” Cohort 6 began on 1st April for a further 25 SMEs.

UpScaler reaches 250

At the same time, the UpScaler project has enrolled its 250th participating SME. UpScaler is designed for companies that have been scaling up and have the potential to bounce back in the short-term and grow at pace in the longer term. The project offers intense diagnostic, leadership and management development workshops, peer-learning and access to a part-funded grant scheme. In March, UpScaler celebrated its successes by showcasing the growth stories of some of its participants, at an event with guest speaker David McDowall, Group COO of Brewdog. UpScaler is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund to support eligible SMEs in the D2N2 region and is a collaboration between NBS and East Midlands Chamber, Derbyshire, Nottinghamshire and Leicestershire. The project video is available here, with a collection of our case studies also available. If you would like a copy contact

Women in Leadership

Just two years ago, NBS launched a fully funded management & leadership short course for women leaders in SMEs. It has been designed for women working in management or leadership roles, or those aspiring to be, who want to develop their careers and their capability to manage and lead within their organisation. As well as valuable, accredited professional development the programme is designed to be supportive and accessible to those with no higher education experience. As an added challenge, the programme was moved to a flexible, online format as a response to Covid-19, and has now supported 17 cohorts of female SME leaders. From nearly 270 participants, over 100 have already improved their career opportunities and a similar number have achieved 20 post graduate credits. Some of our case studies are featured here.

Congratulations to all businesses who have been involved in the SBLP, UpScaler and Women in Leadership projects.

What’s next for Nottingham Business School?

As the Small Business Leadership Programme and UpScaler draw to a close, Lynn Oxborrow, Associate Professor in Management, who leads the SME engagement at NBS said: “The last year has shown just how valuable Business School support can be to small businesses. Some of our projects are ongoing, and we have some exciting new activities, through which to share our knowledge and experience with even more SMEs.”

Potentially among these is the government funded programme ‘Help to Grow: Management’, recently announced to support small and medium sized businesses across the UK learn new skills, reach new customers and boost profits. Small businesses will be able to access a 12-week programme, to help develop a range of skills alongside full-time work. Nottingham Business School is currently involved in development of this programme, so if this is something that would interest you, email for the latest updates or register your interest below.

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