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Aston Programme for Small Business Growth

Impact for scaleups


scaling business


new jobs created in the last 12 months


increase in GVA after 1 year of support


average revenue increase


reported an improved ability to respond to new opportunities

Key sectors

Impact ventures / Social Impact Life Sciences & Biotech Building & Construction Manufacturing / Advanced Manufacturing Creative, digital, film, games & media Professional services Defence & security Technology & Communications Engineering / Advanced Engineering Transport & Logistics Environmental Science & Technology Farming, fisheries & forestry Finance Food & drink Healthcare

The Aston Programme for Small Business Growth uses the latest evidence and research to help scaleups identify and overcome barriers to growth. An intensive 20-week programme, it combines a blend of peer learning, one to one mentoring support and practical tools and exercise.

The programme equips cohorts of around 25 scaleup leaders with the skills, tools and confidence needed to maximise growth. Each is given high-quality, targeted management support and each participant creates a growth action plan. Support is delivered by academics and expert speakers and through shared experience and a series of expert led workshops tackle barriers to growth. 

Core themes covered include strategy and business models, opportunities and innovation and marketing strategies along with leadership, culture, operations and business processes. Participants gain further insights through shared experience with other scaleup leaders and from case studies. 

A dedicated workshop guides participating scaleups through finance options and participants are given the opportunity to pitch their growth strategy to external financial experts. The networking element of the Aston Programme creates valuable new connections for scaling companies and participants are invited to join the Aston Centre for Growth alumni network. 

Since the programme’s inception in 2015, 282 scaleups have completed the programme. Phase two evaluation data shows that 94% of participants reported an increase in revenue and as a direct result of the programme there will be  a £6.7 million increase in GVA after 1 year of support. By March 2024 participants have created more than 350 new jobs. 

The programme’s 2023 Impact Report showed that all respondents felt more confident in business planning and strategy, with 97% reporting that they are now more comfortable making business decisions and 93% feel more comfortable about taking risks. Additionally, they are now more equipped in delivering business growth, with 97% feeling they are now more able to use financial data to make decisions, and 93% reporting an improved ability to respond to new opportunities.

Following the cessation of ERDF funding, the programme has secured alternative funding through the UK Shared Prosperity Fund until September 2024 to continue its delivery. It will now be available to scaling companies in the Shropshire area and will be additionally offering a new element of Innovation Vouchers.

“I would recommend the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth to anyone who is serious about their business and looking to grow and to become more strategic. I know it is difficult but find the time to attend such a programme because it will only benefit you in the long run, and there is so much to learn and implement within your business. And the team at Aston are phenomenal.”
Avril Grant – Founder, A-vision for Empowerment CIC

“I cannot express how transformative the APFSBG has been for me and my business. With the guidance of experienced business experts, we meticulously mapped out our customer journey, resulting in a profound improvement in our customer relationships and overall success.

“This programme afforded me the precious time to reflect on our business processes, allowing us to operate with newfound efficiency and effectiveness. The finance module was a game-changer, demystifying the numbers and empowering me to make informed financial decisions.

“The APFSBG has been a catalyst for positive change, equipping me with the tools and insights needed for long-term success. I couldn’t be more grateful for this invaluable experience.”
Chris Blunt – CEO, BS Net Limited

Aston Programme for Small Business Growth website