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Business Growth Hub Aims High With New Scale-Up Support Programme

Spark2Scale initiative launched to accelerate growth within Greater Manchester’s highest performing SMEs

The Business Growth Hub, part of the Manchester Growth Company, has announced a dynamic new masterclass and support programme. Spark2Scale is tailored specifically for Greater Manchester’s aspiring ‘scale-ups’ – a term generally used to define SMEs which have enjoyed 20% growth year on year for several years, or have the clear potential to grow at a similar rate over the next few years.

The Spark2Scale programme will run in cohorts over the next two years. It has been specifically designed to help ambitious businesses make the step-change they need to fulfil their potential and become a ‘scale-up’. It will utilise collaborative masterclasses, personal mentoring, peer-to-peer problem solving − together with bespoke business support from specialist Hub advisers.

Using this mix of tools and approaches, Spark2Scale aims to tackle many of the barriers faced by local companies who are keen to grow but who often lack the experience or confidence to take their businesses forward. These include:

  • Finding the right talent and skills
  • Developing leadership capabilities
  • Expanding a client base both nationally and internationally
  • Accessing the right finance
  • Building infrastructure

These barriers were identified in The ScaleUp Institute’s recent report, the ScaleUp 2016 Review (see notes), which calculates that nationally a boost of just 1% within the scale-up market could help create an additional 238,000 jobs and add £38bn extra GVA within just three years.

Hilary Centeleghe, senior growth manager at the Hub, said: “Greater Manchester is home to hundreds of fantastic businesses with huge potential to grow but many find that taking the next steps needed to fulfil their aspirations is a real challenge. The Spark2Scale programme has been specifically calibrated to address this, and it aims to instil a positive, ambitious, and confident scale-up mindset.

“Scale-ups also drive innovation, create jobs and add a massive amount of value to the whole of the economy, so it’s crucial that the Hub nurtures and stimulates those Greater Manchester businesses on the cusp of achieving great things across all sectors, industries and markets.” 

Joining Hilary at the launch of the Spark2Scale programme at Manchester’s Museum of Science and Industry this week were several highly successful entrepreneurs who themselves had, or were in the process of, scaling-up with support from the Hub. They included Ben Davies, Head of Marketing for fast-growing ‘pay-as-you’ café chain Ziferblat, Howard Simms, CEO and Co-founder of Apadmi Ventures, one of the UK’s leading mobile app developers, and Professor Michael Domnall, director of University of Manchester spin-out business ViewIt.

Addressing an audience of over 100 local company owners and business advisers, all three talked about how on their respective journeys to success they had met numerous obstacles and made mistakes, but found the support they needed to overcome these barriers and inspire them to keep pushing forward.

Howard Simms from Apadmi Ventures said: “When we were looking to scale-up at Apadmi I realised that there were big gaps in our knowledge. The business was growing rapidly and the pressure was mounting on us to continue our strong performance, but we didn’t know where to turn for advice. Business Growth Hub offered a gateway to everything we needed to build a strong foundation for the future, and the mentoring in particular was crucial to our success.  The Scale2Spark programme captures and channels all of that expertise, and combines it with a really effective collaborative approach to unlocking growth potential. I’d therefore strongly recommend any ambitious Greater Manchester business to sign-up.”

Howard Simms speaks at Spark2Scale launch



Around 50 of Greater Manchester’s most promising scale-up businesses will be selected by the Hub for the 2017 Spark2Scale programme. The first cohort will commence in April, and participants will get to enjoy four intensive ‘boot-camp’ half-day sessions spread across April, May and June. Two further cohorts will be run later in the year.  Furthermore, being a fully-funded ERDF scheme means that there is no cost for the qualifying businesses.

More details can be found on our Spark2Scale page.

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