Research and Enterprise

Unlocking the growth potential of early-stage businesses across our city

In October 2019, we launched the ACCELERATE programme here at Leeds Beckett University – a free programme of support to help early-stage businesses. In this blog post, Claire Muir - Project Coordinator in our Post-Award team - reflects on how the programme has adapted to the challenges of the past year and how business engagement has been stronger than ever.

Published on 17 Mar 2021
Two business colleagues meeting and talking at a desk within the Halifax University Business Centre

It has undoubtedly been an extraordinary year … March 2020 we were midway through the second cohort of Accelerate when the nationwide lockdown struck - so our team swiftly moved to home working and trainers quickly embraced new technology and innovative ways of delivering support online.

For the small business community there was an immediate feeling of shock and the need to reach out for support. Then over the following months there was a subtle shift away from pure survival to a renewed emphasis on building resilience and planning for future growth.

In light of this, we adapted the Accelerate programme to be more responsive to the current environment and to help businesses regain focus, develop knowledge and give them the confidence and support to get their business back on track.

We are now mid-way through our fifth cohort of Accelerate (our third virtual cohort), and the programme has been more successful than ever - with cohorts being oversubscribed, targets exceeded, and greater engagement and collaboration achieved between businesses and partners.  In the last 18 months, the programme has supported a total of 63 businesses.

By the end of March, our delegates will have participated in a series of six live webinars, accessed six pre-recorded masterclasses, received a business diagnostic, key account management and are working closely with their academic mentor receiving one to one support.

Business colleagues taking part in a workshop discussion around a desk at the Wakefield University Business Centre

About the Accelerate programme

Accelerate is part of the ERDF-funded Ad:Venture programme and is specifically designed to help ambitious early-stage businesses across the Leeds City Region unlock their growth potential.

It is delivered by Leeds Business School academics and the business topics focus on the importance of a good business model, understanding and connecting with your customers, developing cost structures, bootstrapping to grow your business and how to scale up.

The structured approach and access to experience has also been a key factor in the programme’s success, as demonstrated in the feedback from our previous delegates:

  • The Accelerate programme brings focus and clarity of your ideas and provides you with the tools and skills to scale up your business.
  • The mentoring was brilliant! The advice has been so valuable to us and the mentor was so adept at getting us to think outside the box.
  • With Accelerate you get the content of the sessions, but you also get the connections with other entrepreneurs and the tailored business support, which challenges you and makes you focus.
  • It’s been fantastic to have such amazing business experience to draw on and I can't thank the team enough for the great advice, guidance and clarity of thought that they provided.

Find out more

Our Accelerate team will continue to deliver three cohorts per year up to 2023. And - although face to face delivery will return in some form - elements of the online delivery are definitely here to stay.

If you would like a copy of the Ad:Venture Annual Report or are interested in joining our next cohort of Accelerate in May, please email or visit our Accelerate web page.

The Accelerate programme logo

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