Since 2013 the Royal Academy of Engineering has operated an Enterprise Hub to inspire business-minded engineers based in the UK to pursue entrepreneurial endeavours and to transform bright ideas into bold and disruptive businesses that have an impact on society. To achieve this it draws on the expertise of the Academy’s 1,700 Fellows – some of the most successful and talented engineers from academia and business.
The Hub has evolved its programmes to support promising CEOs and founders of high-growth engineering companies to develop their skills and teams. The current SME Leaders programme includes one-to-one coaching to allow each participant to focus on their own personal development. Applicants must have raised at least £500,000 equity investment and/or have a turnover of at least £200,000 in the previous 12 months.
Successful candidates receive a £10,000 grant to fund their choice of leadership training courses, six months of one-to-one coaching plus an experienced mentor. They have access to masterclasses and workshops delivered by senior business leaders. So far the Academy has supported 76 SME Leaders across seven cohorts and has just recruited a new group of 12 for the latest programme.
Participants can also use the Academy’s Taylor Centre as a drop-in workspace or location for meetings with their teams, clients, mentors and investors. Before Covid-19 the Centre was the base for monthly meetings for current and alumni Hub members including peer-to-peer learning and meet the investor events. These have now been moved online with extra webinars added until face-to-face meetings can be organised again.
Feedback on the programme has been strong with 86% of SME Leaders reporting an improvement in their leadership skills, particularly in strategic thinking and corporate governance, and 96% reporting making changes to their businesses due to their participation.