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South West tech companies offered growth boost

Tech companies across the South West of England have the chance to work with top growth coaches and experts as part of Tech South West’s new business support programme.

Growth Forge will see tech firms utilise a proprietary assessment tool to identify two-to-three priority areas, then work with partners such as Microsoft, Sandler, Bishop Fleming, Ashfords, Howden and Program, along with a range of specialist business coaches, to develop and implement opportunities for growth.

The ‘supergroup’ of growth coaches includes business TedX speaker and author Ruth Farenga, business acceleration consultant Andy Clarke, tech CTO Matt Jones, Alicia Grimes, company culture expert and co-founder of The Future Kind, and international pitch guru Martin Barnes.

Companies who successfully apply to the programme will be able to work with Microsoft on tech product development, including AI, and plug in to the region’s investment funds and angel investor groups.

Twenty five per cent of places on Growth Forge are ring-fenced for positive impact firms including climate tech, sustainability tech, tech4good, health and well-being.

Bursaries for positive impact tech and early stage companies will also be available, covering between 50 and 100 percent of the programme fee. Applications are now open via techsouthwest.co.uk/growthforge

“Most tech companies don’t have a team of highly experienced non-executive directors, including former tech CEOs, entrepreneurs and active investors covering every aspect of what a successful growth business requires,” said Dan Pritchard, founder of Tech South West. “That’s where Growth Forge comes in; a cost-effective way to build and implement a strategy based on your company’s needs today, by plugging tech leaders directly into a curated team of standout experts who have the relevant expertise combined with a can-do attitude, supreme tech knowledge and essential contacts.”

Areas of expertise that companies can focus on include strategy, market awareness, innovation, technology, commercialisation, leadership, team, funding, finance, risk, IP, sales, marketing and brand.

Neil Morris, chief executive of Bristol-based Kelpi, was part of Tech South’s 2023 programme ScaleUp Studio. He said: “It was an invaluable part of Kelpi’s journey. We landed key new clients, nearly doubled the size of the team and made huge progress with our materials technology. Working within the Tech South West ecosystem has been a key part of our ability to grow sustainably.”

Other tech firms involved last year included Digilab, Small Robot Company, Arc Marine, FerryX and xigxag.

Ben Cooper, Director of Tech South West and Funding and Support Lead, said: “Successful applicants will complete an initial online Growth Assessment, developed by Tech South West, to identify areas where support is needed. We will use that data to match the cohort with relevant experts, ahead of the first of three Growth Days. We can monitor progress and respond to that, as each navigates the programme.”

Growth Forge features three immersive Growth Days, on March 13, then in June and October, along with mentoring and peer groups. Other growth coach specialists who will be supporting tech companies include James Cater, tech CEO, advisor and mentor specialising in SAAS businesses, Lucy Paine, Entrepreneur in Residence at University of Bath, and Anthony Story, Director of Growth Leaders.

Now open at a reduced rate of £495 for the full programme, or £295 for one Growth Day, Growth Forge will have cohorts of tech companies from early stage and pre-seed startups to scaleups and established organisations, covering Bath, Bristol, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset and Wiltshire.

Tech South West operates across the region to support the tech sector, working with the likes of Innovate UK, British Business Bank, local tech clusters, universities and accelerators. Growth Forge runs alongside a number of projects delivered by Tech South West including regular meetups, Tech South West Awards, AI South West networking group, Angel Investor Programme, Access to Finance Platform, Regional Leadership Forum, South West Tech Daily news platform and more!

Growth Forge applications are now open techsouthwest.co.uk/growthforge