An innovative North East firm which helps disenfranchised young people reengage with education is aiming to scale up and expand outside the region with the help of a five-figure investment.
The cash injection has come from the North East Small Loan Fund supported by the European Regional Development Fund.
Nudge Education provides individualised intervention services which engage, educate and empower children and young people who are, for whatever reason, chronically disengaged from education, and which are designed to achieve lasting results.
Since being set up in 2016, the Newcastle-based firm has worked with a dozen different local authorities, mostly around North East England, and is on target to record a turnover of more than one million pounds this year.
It is investing the £40,000 it has secured through regional fund management firm NEL Fund Managers in enhanced systems and processes that will further improve the effectiveness and efficiency of its work, especially around the remote learning that it is increasingly carrying out.
Additional business development and marketing resources are being put in place to help the firm increase its client base to more than 30 local authorities by the end of 2020, with Yorkshire, Derbyshire and Merseyside being priority areas into which it is looking to expand.
Nudge Education was founded by Brian Mair and Diego Melo, who had both previously worked in the North East education and training sectors.
They were referred to NEL after taking part in the Generator programme and have worked with Blu Sky Chartered Accountants on putting the required financial structures in place.
Brian Mair says: “Both Diego and I had seen the pathway that disaffected young people would often drift down if they lacked the right sort of support, and we felt there was a different way of working that could have a positive impact on both their short and long-term prospects.
“The interventions we design are not only made to get them re-engaged with education, but also with life in general, and we’ve been able to quickly demonstrate to our clients just how effective they can be.
“With around 50,000 young people becoming disengaged from education across the UK every year, there’s a huge amount of demand out there for us to satisfy and our services can easily be rolled out into new target markets wherever new opportunities arise.
“The NEL team was easy to deal with, and the investment they helped us secure is already making a tangible difference to the business.
“We’re looking at different partnership opportunities which could enable us to extend the range of services we provide and are talking to different government departments and local authorities about how we might help them meet their particular priorities.”
Part of the £120m North East Fund and aimed predominantly at smaller SMEs, the £9m North East Small Loan Fund typically offers loans of between £10,000 and £50,000 to businesses in Tyne & Wear, Durham and Northumberland.
It is designed to assist with the creation of over 1,200 new regional jobs in more than 320 SMEs over the life of the fund.
Mike Guellard, investment executive at NEL Fund Managers, adds: “The Nudge Education team makes a huge difference to the prospects of the dozens of young people with whom they have already worked, and the investment we’ve made will help them extend both where they can work and the services they can provide.”
The overarching North East Fund will provide financial support for more than 600 businesses, creating around 3,500 jobs and delivering a legacy of up to £80m for further investment into the region.
NEL is also responsible for investing the £18m North East Growth Capital Fund, which offers unsecured investments of up to £500,000 to established businesses looking to realise their growth potential.