The University of Strathclyde’s Growth Advantage Programme 2017 has opened for applications from business leaders who are ready to grow their companies, as previous participants report a 22% increase in sales.
The 9-month programme allows business leaders of growth-oriented SMEs to take a step back from the day-to-day running of their organisations to learn from their peers and leading scholars.
Collectively, past participants have seen a 19% growth in employment and a 22% rise in sales on average since completing the programme, which is delivered by the Hunter Centre for Entrepreneurship at Strathclyde Business School.
Santander commissioned GAP from Strathclyde Business School in 2014 with the first cohort of 20 SMEs starting in May 2015 and the second group in May 2016.
The formal GAP impact analysis from last year’s cohort shows that together, the participants total employment grew by 19%, with total sales rising 22%. Looking ahead, their projected total employment for the next three years was up 94% and projected total sales was up by 290%.
The programme is made up of five intensive sessions between September and May and covers some of the characteristics of successful growth companies such as resourcing and leadership. Participants contribute £4,500 each to the cost of the course, with the rest provided by Santander.
John Anderson, director of the Growth Advantage Programme and former chief executive of the Entrepreneurial Exchange, said: “The learning philosophy behind GAP is firmly built on research findings on entrepreneurial learning styles and combines the strengths of peer learning with world class executive education. The sales and employment growth reported by previous participants in our impact report demonstrates how effective the programme is.
“I was particularly struck by the significant increase in productivity noted by participants given recent warnings that Scotland’s productivity performance needs to be addressed. Taking change in sales per employee as a measure of productivity improvement, participants projected an average annual increase in productivity of 13.9% for the next three years.”
Alistair Cameron, managing director of water purification business Scotmas and 2016 participant, said: “Whilst there are other forms of executive education available out there, no other option I have experienced so far has delivered the same impact to my business as GAP.
“A key differentiator is sustainability. By delivering the inputs over a nine-month period, the Hunter Centre has facilitated 'bite-sized' learning and an element of peer support/pressure that ensures that the cohort is able to apply the learning in their businesses immediately.”