Growth for participant of Keele leadership programme

An award-winning industrial design and mechanical engineering company has experienced year-on-year growth, thanks in-part to Keele University’s prestigious leadership programme.

David Mills, Managing Director at Stafford-based Haughton Design, took part in the University’s Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL)* programme in 2017, and says that the programme has enabled him to develop his team and his business:

“The programme gave me a lot of new ideas and opportunities to refine our strategy. I had spoken to other participating businesses who praised the programme highly and I knew I wanted to be part of it.

“However, I wanted to make sure it was not only me that benefitted from the programme but the whole Haughton team. It was very important that they were on-board with the journey we were going on and to understand all the elements of our vision. Our team are hard-working experts in their field, and I wanted to ensure that they are able to grow with the business.

“Before starting MCIL, our growth was pretty much stagnant. However, since we’ve integrated the learnings from the programme into the business, we’ve seen increased growth of 35% in 2018 and a further 20% in 2019.”

The company’s leadership efforts were recently recognised when they were announced as the winners of the Leadership award at the inaugural Breaking the Mould Awards 2019.

The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership aims to equip aspirational business leaders and entrepreneurs with the skills and knowledge to tackle the internal and external challenges of business growth. The programme, consisting of 12 sessions over a six-month period, offers a mix of one-to-one coaching, workshops and interactive sessions covering a range of topics such as marketing, internationalisation and business planning.

The programme is fully-funded and is exclusively open to SME business leaders based in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire. Applications for the programme’s next cohort, commencing in May 2020, are now being accepted. To find out more information about the programme and to apply, visit

Founded in 1995, Haughton Design produce and develop designs and devices for a range of sectors including the medical and pharmaceutical sectors. Their work requires a unique blend of industrial design and mechanical engineering excellence, with David and his team working systematically from initial concept through to manufacture and industrialisation process.

Annette Shipley, one of the University’s Entrepreneurs in Residence, commented: “Over the years, MCIL has produced some fantastic success stories, and Haughton Design’s recent increase in growth is one of them. Although they have been operating in the local area for more than 20 years, it’s great to see that their collaborations with Keele have equipped David and his team with the skills, knowledge and networks to help take the business to the next level.”

For more information about the business support opportunities offered by Keele University through the Business Gateway, visit

SIH Logos including Research England *The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership (MCIL) programme is delivered through Keele University Science & Innovation Park Smart Innovation Hub (Ref: 32R17P01691) / Innovation Centre 6 which has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the England Growth Programme 2014-2020, the Midlands Engine and Staffordshire County Council with support from the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government (MHCLG) (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit