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Cranfield School of Management: Business Growth Programme [2022]

Leadership Capacity

Impact for scaleups


Year on year profits growth


Business leaders participated since 1988


Sales increase


Smaller high-growth firms participated in the R4S and R4NZG programmes

Key sectors

Healthcare 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

More than 3,100 business leaders have participated in Cranfield’s Business Growth Programme (BGP) since its launch in 1988. The programme is aimed at owner-managed businesses with more than five staff and a turnover exceeding £500k. Typical participants have been operating for at least three years and have a turnover between £0.8m and £20m with ambitions to scale.  

BGP combines the latest academic thinking with peer-to-peer learning and facilitates conversations around key topics. Participants leave the programme with a robust business growth plan which is reviewed against progress after 100 days.

BGP alumni report sales growth of 23% a year and profit growth year-on-year of 41% post completion of the programme and include household names such as Cobra Beer, Thatchers Cider, Hotel Chocolat and Go Ape. Its impact is evidenced by entrepreneurs returning to the programme a second time to address new growth challenges.

Cranfield has collaborated with several local councils to provide full scholarships to its Ready for Scale programme for micro/small businesses. Developed in 2018/19 the programme delivers the BGP ethos to ambitious micro and small SMEs with growth ambitions. Just under 150 SMEs have participated to date.

In February, Cranfield launched its new Ready for Net Zero Growth programme, an 18-week online growth programme for businesses looking to integrate their Net Zero ambitions into their business growth plans. Subject matter experts from Cranfield’s School of Management and School of Energy & Sustainability deliver this programme which includes self-paced learning, online tutorials and one to one coaching along with the completion of a carbon audit and a business growth plan. More than 50 businesses have already participated in this programme which is entirely funded by local councils.

BGP has now been running for 34 years and is the longest-established leadership programme for ambitious owner-managed businesses in the UK.

“Having been through the course, not only have my perceptions changed in an extremely positive way but I have seen a dramatic impact on my business, the management team and the culture as a whole.” Darren Smith – Opius Business Growth programme

“In just a few weeks the Ready for Scale sessions allowed me to move my business on light years. With the help and support of the outstanding team and my coach, I ended the course with a plan-of-action that we put to use immediately and that has already provided a massive, measurable benefit to our business.” Daniel Johnson – Ready for Scale

“I was a sceptic about how important net zero was to the corporate world, it felt like something that tends to be greenwashed. However, after the course it is very obvious how important the core concept to net zero now is. It’s quite a stretching goal for many companies but soon I feel it will underpin major selection criteria for B2B and B2C customers.” Simon Moore – Net Zero Growth programme

Cranfield School of Management: Business Growth Programme [2022] website