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Northern Powerhouse European Union

New business model and strategy leads to scalable growth


Launched by James Lomax in 2016, Clever Cogs Learning delivers bespoke immersive educational experiences to schools across the country. Based in Bolton with four employees, it brings school trips directly to the school, providing teachers and children alike with all the tools to learn, create and explore. 


Clever Cogs was launched after founder James Lomax identified a gap in the market for tailor-made, custom designed learning experiences for schools. 

James wanted to ensure that Clever Cogs could scale effectively and that it had a clear plan for growth. He sought support on accessing finance, managing intellectual property and the logistics of franchising his business. 


When James attended Venturefest North West in 2018, the region’s biggest innovation expo and conference, he first met the Hub’s Access to Finance team, who went on to work with the business on franchising and investment opportunities. 

After discussing his ambitions for Clever Cogs, James was referred to Steph Stafford, the Hub’s senior innovation advisor, for specialist expertise in securing Intellectual Property. This led to the business exploring a new business model. 

James said: “I was impressed by the personalised support from my advisor, which enabled me to map out a comprehensive new business model and strategy which was designed to achieve scalable growth.  

This work included a plan to roll Clever Cogs out across the UK, clearly defining their target customers through tailored value propositions to help James effectively market Clever Cogs to schools.  


Thanks to the Hub’s support, Clever Cogs has grown from working with 20 schools to approximately 200 in the three years since it was foundedJames is continuing to expand the business’UK presence, and has even taken on three more members of staff including a co-director, office administrator and part-time employee to support the business’s ongoing growth and innovation. 

James continued to work with the Hub’s Access to Finance advisor Sarah Brennan on an investment pitch and in 2019, Clever Cogs returned to Venturefest North West as a finalist in the Innovation Showcase competition. Sarah said:  

“Clever Cogs became finalists at Venturefest North West because they have a compelling story, a clear strategy and a service that has found its market. I’m confident that they will soon secure investment which will give them the ability to scale and achieve their ambitious growth plans.” 

James said: “The Hub’s specific, tailored support has been invaluable in helping Clever Cogs realise its potential. It hasn’t just been a ‘one size fits all’ approach: The Hub took the time to get to know my specific business needs and worked with me to create a business model that could unlock Clever Cog’s growth. They have exceeded my expectations at every step of the way.  

“We’re continuing to work closely with the Hub into 2020 and beyond where we’ll be attending even more events, introducing a delivery team and pushing Clever Cogs to be the very best it can be through the unique experiences that we deliver.” 

Steph said: “We knew from the outset that James had tapped into something special with Clever Cogs, and its combination of uniqueness, fun and educational value has made it a sure-fire hit with children across the country. 

“With big plans on the horizon for the business, we look forward to supporting James and Clever Cogs in their innovation journey as he takes the steps to grow into 2020 and beyond.” 


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