Small business programme has big impact with 170 jobs

A SME scheme delivered by industry cluster NEPIC has created 170 jobs through engaging with 200 North East businesses

Professor Stan Higgins
Professor Stan Higgins

An ambitious programme set up to develop and grow the region’s small and medium-sized firms has created 170 jobs through engaging with 200 North East businesses.

The three-year Business Acceleration for SMEs programme was launched back in 2012 to assist 400 SMEs in developing their sales to the process industry.

The scheme, which has not yet reached its half way point, works through a novel three-pronged approached of mentoring, events and workshops.

Delivered by industry cluster NEPIC, it supports small to medium sized businesses in the delivery of direct new sales, promotes export opportunities and improves processes to bring new products and services to market.

“We are delighted by the arrival of our 200th company” said programme manager, Felix O’Hare.

“It reflects the demand and value this programme has to offer SMEs”.

NEPIC chief executive Stan Higgins said: “We have a fascinating portfolio of North East companies on board and have already developed some impressive case studies.

“The combined efforts of the team, our industry-mentors and the participating SMEs have led to the creation of 170 jobs in 18 months.

“If this were a new investor to the region it would be front page news.

“Whilst many agencies are out there chasing the big new foreign direct investment, the answer to our economic development needs may be on our doorstep.

“The attraction of a single £100m investment might bring 100 permanent jobs.

“However, developing our local SMEs has the capability of generating many, many more.”

Among the BASME programme’s major selling points is that it is supported by 120 process industry mentors.

All have pledged their time in support of the region’s SMEs, assisting them in becoming established suppliers to the process sector.

At NEPIC’s annual Meet the Members event in June, 174 BASME mentoring meetings took place between 42 companies over the course of an afternoon, with the likes of SABIC, Huntsman, Conoco Philips, ABB, Sembcorp and Lotte getting involving.

Craig Morgan, managing director of the Newcastle-based GME Industry, said of the programme: “We have found ‘Business Acceleration for SMEs’ to be exactly what it says on the tin.

“We have signed up local companies for new LED Lighting and now have the opportunity to meet with a key player in the process sector, on site, to discuss potential future works.

“That could be a game changer for us.”

To find out more about BASME,contact O’Hare on 01642 442 560 or email


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