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Thursday 14 May 2015

Making business knowledge easy to access

Southampton Solent University has recently been involved in running the Association of Business Schools’ Growth Voucher Programme (GVP), which aimed to help make business tuition and expert knowledge easy to access for micro-enterprises across the region.

77 businesses owners applied for the scheme, all of whom shared an ambition to grow their customer base, improve their product reach, and boost their incomes.

Southampton Solent University’s business school and conference centre

Jo Barry, the owner of up-and-coming social care recruitment agency Platinum Care Solutions, had this to say about the first set of workshops:

“On the programme you are supported by a number of business people – higher education lecturers or professional business coaches with experience in areas that I require support.

“The greatest benefit for me has been the advice and reassurance that these coaches and lectures provided. As a business woman who has been running my own business for 10 years, it was a welcome change to be able to discuss frustrations with someone neutral and unbiased.”

Jo Barry attended the workshops in the hope of growing her social care recruitment agency

The full programme consisted of 10 additional workshops, where small businesses got advice on areas such as, marketing, HR and finance from some of the country’s brightest business minds.

David Scott, owner of Phoenix Office Cleaning, applied for the full Growth Voucher Programme because of the workshops and networking opportunities.

“The interaction with the other business owners has been really thought provoking – I can apply what I’ve learned here to my business tomorrow,” he says.

Claire Whitehead of Camelid Veterinary Services found that the workshops helped her to think about growth like a business owner rather than a clinician:

“It has been really good and has given me lots to think about. It has helped me focus on the business aspect, as I am primarily a clinician and so haven’t really thought about the business side.

Claire Whitehead specialises in giving veterinary care to alpacas and lamas. This picture features a training tool she helped to develop.

“I’ve found it really useful and it has helped me think more about the business environment and look at novel ways to manage tasks. I found myself really looking forward to each session.”

Each business leader also received nine hours of 1-2-1 mentoring from leading academics in the University’s business school.

Maggie Moss, manager of Southampton Solent University’s enterprise centre said:

“Working in partnership with the Business School’s academics to ensure a successful delivery of the GVP has been an enjoyable experience and certainly demonstrates how we can work together in the future to achieve positive outcomes.”

The Growth Voucher Programme is led by Aston University, in partnership with business schools from Southampton Solent, Loughborough, Nottingham and University College London.

Five of the businesses owners to receive one-to-one support: (left to right) James Tomalin, Toby Winn, Claire Whitehead, Scott Rogers and David Scott

These Universities (among others) worked together to develop a bank of central resources that are being delivered by each participating school. Southampton Solent has utilised its industry leading virtual learning environment so that the businesses taking part can access the programme’s resources at home or work.

Professor Georgina Andrews, Director of Southampton Solent Business School and a driving force in bringing the scheme to Southampton, says:

“It has been a real team effort to make sure that small businesses get the support they need and feel empowered to grow their business in the current climate.”

Christine Fountain, a principal lecturer involved with delivering the scheme, was pleased with the response:

“The businesses involved have found the workshops run by academics with expertise in business growth really useful – it’s allowing them to focus on their future.”


To find out how you could get involved with Southampton Solent Business School or any future growth workshop events, please send an email to fbse@solent.ac.uk or ring admissions on 023 8201 3888.