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Strathclyde Business School: Growth Advantage Programme [2021]

Leadership Capacity

Impact for scaleups


Companies supported


Businesses grew jobs by average annual rate above 20%


Business increased turnover by average annual rate above 20%


Greater projected average sales within 3 years


Expected growth in revenues

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

First launched in 2015 the Growth Advantage Programme provides relevant, accessible and practical learning for fast-growing Scottish businesses taking the scaleup journey.  It is aimed at growth businesses with a minimum £1 million turnover.  Participants typically come from all over Scotland – although there have been participants from Kent and Cambridge – from a wide range of sectors and include companies started from scratch, bought and multi-generation family businesses – all with ambitions to grow further and faster.

Invited participants are offered a programme that links high-quality executive education with the insights and shared learning that comes from peer networks.  In a normal year business leaders attend an initial one-day orientation meeting and four two-day workshops that take place over ten months.  At the most recent cohort’s request the workshop elements of the programme were suspended during the Covid lockdowns as participants really valued sessions being delivered in person.  The cohort will now complete the programme in January 2022.

The programme is regularly reviewed and changes made from lessons learned.  For example, at the start of Cohort 5 more emphasis was placed on getting to know business leaders as a person rather than just the business.  This accelerated the deep relationships that develop in cohorts over time and was extremely useful in the early stages of lockdown with a level of support and understanding that was much more significant than experienced before.  A combination of good cohort selection, change in the Orientation session and regular ‘Beers or Brunches with Peers’ on Zoom resulted in the strongest peer effect seen in five cohorts to date.

The GAP Programme Director was fully accessible for one-to-one calls and acted as a regular sounding board for participants who needed “someone to talk to”.  This included conversations to feedback on a participant’s reassessment of their value proposition to take advantage of new opportunities brought on by the pandemic and in one case regular and lengthy discussions about the need to change certain key team members who were holding back growth.  Alumni of previous cohorts were also invited to join monthly online catchups with 40 of the 64 taking part.

Other elements introduced during the year was a change to the Resource Advantage session adding a focus on how to manage teams in a post-pandemic environment.  This session ran well and will form part of the programme for future cohorts.

Strathclyde Business School: Growth Advantage Programme [2021] website