Innovation Leadership programme provides new outlook for post-pandemic recovery

Local business owners have used learnings from Keele’s Innovation Leadership programme to refine their strategies and grow, following the global pandemic.

During Covid-19, 15 business leaders and early-stage entrepreneurs took part in Keele Gateway’s fully-funded Innovation Leadership programme*, open exclusively to SMEs in Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

Delivered via an online portal across six two-day sessions, the programme aims to support with the development of the skills, knowledge, and attributes to take their business to the next level, by delivering an impressive line-up of guest speakers and providing breakout rooms to encourage collaboration between owners.

Four months on, the Keele Gateway team got in touch with two Innovation Leadership participants - Amie Lloyd, Administration Manager of Central Contracts (SOT) Ltd, and Shumel Matin, Director and Co-founder of Staffs Tech - to see how the programme has impacted their business since taking part.

Independent contract hire and car leasing company Central Contracts has been supplying cars and vans for companies and professionals nationwide, since 1998. Amie Lloyd was looking to enhance her business strategy understanding and implement new ideas when she enrolled on the programme.

Amie said: “Completing the Leadership Innovation programme has been just what the business and I wanted, providing new ideas and real-world application examples all while supported by academic research and strategy.

“The speakers and one-to-one mentors were fantastic and there were lots of opportunities for collaboration - it was great to speak to other businesses of a similar size and to be able to share ideas and challenges and offer solutions.

“It's an exciting time for the business and I feel the Innovation Leadership programme has helped fast track our goals and refine our strategy. We are now implementing changes that will help our growth long into the future, as well as working with a number of local organisations on other exciting projects in the coming months.”

Stoke-on-Trent-based ICT solutions company Staffs Tech provide a range of IT services to the Education and SME sectors, via a team of experienced individuals. Shumel Matin approached the Innovation Leadership programme to gain a new outlook and perspective on his business moving forward.

He said: “It has been a very positive experience for me personally and for the company, helping me look at the larger picture and strategy of the business.

“The fresh perspective has helped transform the business in these challenging times. Over the past four months, we have restructured parts of the business, changing existing roles and creating new opportunities for growth and diversification.

“Despite being delivered online the platform provided everything we needed with a high calibre of speakers and professionals and at no cost to the business it is win-win for everyone, I look forward to collaborating with Keele further, on other support projects.”

For more information about the Innovation Leadership Programme and to apply for the cohort starting in October 2021 please visit the Innovation Leadership website here.

ERDF landscape logo The Mercia Centre for Innovation Leadership programme is delivered through the Keele University Science & Innovation Park Smart Innovation Hub (Ref: 32R17P01691). This programme is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England Structural and Investments Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.