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Aston Programme for Small Business Growth [2022]

Impact for scaleups


scaling business


new jobs created by 80 participants in the first 5 cohorts


increase in GVA


average revenue increase


report increased confidence in growing their business

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

Newly endorsed by the Scaleup Institute for its contribution to the development of the scaling pipeline across the West Midlands, the Aston Programme for Small Business Growth is a 20-week intensive programme that aims to give early stage high potential scaling businesses the skills, confidence and tools needed to maximise growth. Cohorts of 15 to 25 businesses are given high-quality, targeted leadership and management support.

The programme uses the latest evidence and research to help participants identify and overcome barriers to growth. Support is delivered through a blend of peer learning, one to one mentoring support and practical tools and exercises and participants create individual growth action plans to drive future scaling success.

Building leadership capacity is a key element of the Aston Programme and participants receive intensive, practical leadership education tailored to the needs of scaling businesses. This is delivered by academics and expert speakers and through shared experience.

A series of expert led workshops tackle barriers to growth and participants gain further insights from case studies and from the experience of other scaleup leaders. Core topics covered include strategy and business models, opportunities and innovation, and marketing strategies along with leadership, culture, operations and business processes.

Participants are also guided through finance options in a dedicated workshop and 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 its inception in 2015, 247 high potential scaling businesses have completed the programme. Evaluation of the first stage of the programme showed that 80 participants had created over 600 new jobs (200 of which were attributed directly to the impact of the programme), with an uplift of £22 million turnover and increase of £10.4m GVA. Participants noted a 38% average turnover increase for businesses one year after completing the programme, 94% of the participants reported more confidence in growing their business and 79% improved their ability to use financial data more in decision making. More than half (56%) went on to introduce new or significantly improved products and services.


“The programme provided a structured, comprehensive approach that enabled us to analyse and resolve our growth restrictions and define a clear plan. Our membership business grew by 98% in the six months after we finished the course … Above all, the course gave us the confidence to set our goals and aspirations much higher than we would have otherwise done. It made us all a bit braver – we are currently in the process of looking for a significant external investment to support our ambitious growth plans.” KAT CARRICK, Concierge Medical

The programme really introduced us to new business ideas, the world of external funding and gave us the additional confidence to plan (and commit to paper) the growth we are seeking going forward.” PETER MONKS, Shakespeare Distillery

Aston Programme for Small Business Growth [2022] website