Leeds Beckett provides free online help to SME’s during COVID-19 lockdown
The idea for an online resource to help SME businesses improve their skills was first discussed in Summer 2019 – long before we had any inclination of what was to come and the difficulties businesses would face during the Coronavirus lockdown.
The Ad:Venture project, a Leeds City Region programme funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), was coming to the end of its first phase. Leeds Beckett had created a series of Masterclasses led by academic colleagues in Leeds Business School and had delivered these, along with additional events and one to one support to over 250 young businesses.
We wanted to capture the Masterclass content and create a suite of online tools as a legacy of the project, providing businesses with a flexible set of resources they could access at a time and place convenient to them. The materials would also support the delivery of the second phase of Ad:Venture – called Accelerate – a new programme of support for high growth SME’s which began delivery in the Autumn.
Working with Leeds Business School, colleagues in the Distance Learning team and online platform provider, Candle Learning Ltd (themselves a beneficiary of the project), the Ad:Venture Digital Learning Hub was born in January 2020.
The Hub has 5 core topics; Sales, Marketing, Business Planning, Leadership and Finance – each using 15 minute video tutorials alongside practical tasks, tips and further resources. The masterclasses can be accessed flexibly on any type of PC or mobile device.
Although initially intended as an internal resource, following recent events we have worked with the other Ad:Venture partners to widen access to the platform allowing thousands of businesses to continue learning and planning during these challenging times and ensure that they are prepared for when the region begins to recover from this pandemic.
The Accelerate programme continues to support businesses during lockdown. Leeds Business School mentors are continuing to deliver coaching support and advice virtually and we are also looking at how we can deliver ‘live’ training sessions to small groups, if the situation continues indefinitely.