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Enterprising Ashfield

Supported by the Government’s Towns Fund, NTU has been awarded £3.8m to deliver the Enterprising Ashfield project, a comprehensive Start-up to Scale-up business support programme across the Kirby-in-Ashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield areas.

Enterprise in Ashfield

NTU Enterprise Team

The NTU Enterprise team


'Headstart' is a structured business idea evaluation programme designed to equip entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge to establish, sustain and grow their own business. The programme will support those at all levels, from young entrepreneurs to skilled and experienced technical workers to establish businesses by developing and enhancing their business skills.

In addition, businesses may be eligible to receive £1,000 in seed corn funding to help establish their venture.


The ‘Breakthrough’ programme will support early stage businesses to increase their growth potential, grow new markets, and enhance job creation opportunities through a series of expert workshops, and peer-to-peer learning. Early-stage (minimum of one year trading) and micro-businesses will be supported through the Breakthrough programme which offers training in strategic leadership and management capabilities.


The ‘Accelerator’ stage will offer an intensive programme of support for businesses undergoing rapid growth, or who have high potential for growth. Cohorts of similar businesses will come together a bespoke programme to be designed around the needs of companies preparing to take the next step in their growth journey.

Businesses within the Accelerator stage will participate in workshops and roundtables led by industry and academic specialists in business growth, and received one-to-one mentoring to support their growth aspirations. In addition, the cohort of businesses will provide the ability for peer-to-peer networking and sharing of experience and best practice.

Growth Programme

Through the Growth Programme stage, high potential businesses will have access to a co-ordinated range of business support, including an intense diagnostic, leadership and management development workshops and access to a part-funded grant scheme. Businesses will receive a critical review of their operations, scale-up challenges and opportunities, enabling the programme to target their needs directly. Activities within the programme include:

  • Leadership and management development programmes to enhance skills
  • Tailored workshops focusing on innovation and business growth
  • Access to an executive peer-to-peer network, enabling businesses to learn from each other
  • Access to coaching to help identify and achieve growth

To support this and remove barriers to growth, eligible businesses will be eligible to a £1.5k grant (match funded by the company) to be spent on access to coaching or mentoring.

R&D collaboration

Many organisations do not have access to the facilities and expertise required to innovate, limiting their ability to grow. Through the Enterprising Ashfield project, businesses will be able to collaborate with NTU to undertake specific R&D activities that will assist them in developing innovative new products, processes, and facilitate access to new markets.

Facilities which can be utilised include (but are not limited to):

  • Manufacturing laboratories
  • Wind tunnels
  • Virtual reality suites
  • Electronic engineering laboratories
  • Renewable energy laboratories
  • Chemical analysis and microscopy suites
  • Magnetic Resonance Imagine (MRI) suites
  • 3D printing and laser cutting facilities
  • Product design facilties

Skills in Ashfield

Creative industries

Digital and advanced manufacturing skills are a core focus

Skills support will focus on the training and upskilling of the Ashfield workforce through flexibly delivered short courses.

There will be a strong emphasis on the future of work, with digital and advanced manufacturing skills particularly addressed. Courses offered will be relevant to local business needs, and options could include:

  • Branding and Communication
  • Creative Graphics for Marketing and Communication
  • Graphic Design for Beginners
  • 3D Printing and Laser Cutting
  • CAD for Beginners

Talent in Ashfield

Students at one of the DMA workshops

Students at the Digital Marketing Academy

Graduate placements

We recognise that graduates and students can play an important role in supporting digital development in organisations. The COVID-19 pandemic in particular has shown that companies need to be able to adapt quickly and flexibly to the digital landscape and be able to identify emerging skillsets to improve productivity and business growth.

Enterprising Ashfield will support this by offering 6-week graduate placements into local businesses with a grant of up to £1,250 to support businesses to access this (match funded by the business).

Digital Academy

Building upon NTU’s successful Digital Marketing Academy (DMA), Enterprising Ashfield will run a Digital Academy to offer employer-led training in digital skills. Training is provided by a number of established local industry professionals and includes specialist presentations, workshops and interactive sessions.

Topics covered will include website design, social media marketing and search engine optimisation (SEO).


We will engage with local businesses to promote greater understanding and uptake of higher level skills within their workforce. It is expected that this will primarily occur through businesses supporting employees to start an apprenticeship and/or Higher Technical Education provision (Level 4 and above).

Apprenticeships are offered in a number of sectors and subjects with the following identified as priority areas for Enterprising Ashfield:

  • Healthcare and science
  • Construction
  • Leadership and management (relevant to all sectors)
  • Digital skills, particularly within engineering, manufacturing, and transport and logistics employing automation and artificial intelligence (AI) processes.

Employers will be supported by a dedicated Industry Skills Manager (ISM) who will work to understand local skills needs through consultations with business, measure the return of investment (ROI) of apprenticeships, and assist in the development of new Higher Technical Education provision that matches employer need in Ashfield.

Get in touch

To enquire about accessing support or for further information, please contact


This project is funded by the Government's Towns Fund and will specifically benefit businesses and individuals based in the towns of Kirkby-in-Ashfield and Sutton-in-Ashfield.

All support provided will be subject to a check to confirm geographic eligibility.

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