The Entrepreneurs’ Forum has unveiled the fourth cohort of its dedicated scale-up programme, the Scale-up Leader’s Academy.

Launched in 2017, it supports ambitious business owners with their growth journey, helping build an actionable ‘One Page Strategic Plan’ to achieve their goals.

As in previous years, the entrepreneurs on the programme hail from a variety of sectors, and include Samantha Read of APM Cleaning, Lee Quarzi of Lumo.Tax, Michael Beaton of DRS, Ben Tansey of re:heat, Sally Marshall of the Marshall Robertson Group and Nick Salloway of Status Digital.

They are joined by Kim Binks of Apricity, Richie Gledson of Sky High Sports, Martin Wakefield of Wakefields, Dan Parker of Aspect Facades, Alisdair Beveridge of The Build Directory and Keian Sanchez of A Greener Solution.

Since its launch, the Academy has supported almost 30 entrepreneurs across the North East to focus on achieving sustainable high growth by creating a blueprint for future business success.

The second cohort of businesses, which were the subject of research conducted by Newcastle University, reported a 140% rise in operating profit, with an average increase in turnover of 13.2% and a rise of 8.6% in employment. A quarter of scale-ups participating in the programme also increased their level of export sales over the past 12 months.

Among them was Steven Rawlingson, founder of recruitment business Samuel Knight International. Headquartered in Newcastle, the firm has scaled into a £13m-turnover, 70-employee enterprise with offices in Bristol, London and Chicago.

Commenting on the impact of the Academy on his business, Steven said: “The Scale-up Leader’s Academy allowed me to reassess and learn how to keep the four key plates of my business – people, strategy, execution, cash – spinning in the right way.

“Every day I was practising what I was learning on the course. The Academy really changed my mindset and helped me get the business back in line. I learned to think like a CEO.”

Jonathan Lamb, Chief Executive of the Entrepreneurs’ Forum, said: “The Scale-up Leader’s Academy is delivering a toolkit of invaluable knowledge to business owners that allows them to prepare for rapid and sustained business growth.

“For each cohort, we refine the programme to reflect our members feedback and to address the key challenges faced by scale-ups in our region such as access to talent and leadership development.

“On completion of the Academy, our members are fully equipped with everything they need to grow sustainable companies with the ongoing support of their senior leadership teams.”

With access to talent and markets being the principal barriers for North East scale-ups, the Scale-up Leader’s Academy has addressed this in its programme through targeted workshops, resulting in it being named ‘One to Watch’ by the Scaleup Institute in its 2019 Scaleup Review.

The review also revealed the number of high-growth businesses in the North East has surpassed the 1,000 mark.

Jonathan continued: “Taking into consideration the recent reports and statistics on scale-ups in the North East, then 2020 promises to be an incredible year for businesses in the region.

“We’re delighted to welcome the latest cohort to our Scale-up Leader’s Academy and are confident this cohort boasts many of the most promising scale-ups in the North East.”