Luton-based small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) working in or supplying the aviation sector will be eligible for free coaching and support to grow their business from experts at Cranfield School of Management.

Luton Council is funding 30 places on the University’s Ready for Scale aviation programme for ambitious business leaders looking to take the next step in growing their business.

As part of a new initiative developed specifically for Luton Council, the Ready for Scale programme will be complemented for Luton-based aviation businesses with masterclasses led by expert faculty from Cranfield’s Aerospace Integration Research Centre (AIRC).

Dr Stephanie Hussels, Director of the Bettany Centre for Entrepreneurship, Cranfield’s entrepreneurial hub, said: “With Ready for Scale, businesses undertake the same 12-week growth plan process advocated on our highly-successful Business Growth Programme, which has helped more than 2,900 businesses to grow better since its inception 30 years ago.

“Participants will learn how to critically review their business and thoroughly interrogate what is and isn’t working. By the end, they will have a clear vision and a detailed plan of the steps they need to take in order to achieve it.”

Professor Iain Gray, Director of Aerospace, will lead the aviation masterclasses. He said: “The aerospace sector has been identified by the Government as being of strategic importance to the UK economy, and businesses in Luton’s aviation and associated supply chain sector are key contributors to the national picture.

“We want to support these businesses to develop, grow and realise their ambitions, and accelerate them on their journey. This is particularly crucial post-pandemic, and as the industry as a whole strives for net-zero and commits to a more sustainable future.”

Nicola Monk, Corporate Director of Inclusive Economy at Luton Council, said: “Luton Council’s Economic Recovery Plan recognises the challenges of Covid-19 and the need to support those businesses most in need. Our focus is on securing a strong recovery, as well as reforming the economy so that everyone in Luton can benefit from economic growth and opportunities in the future.

“We are delighted to announce that the Government’s Additional Restrictions Grant (ARG) scheme has enabled the council to provide financial support to businesses and create a new partnership with Cranfield University. This will provide vital support to Luton’s aviation sector and their supply chain businesses, to realise their potential through Cranfield’s world renowned Ready for Scale programme, customised for our aviation sector. Cranfield’s aerospace engineering knowledge is first in the UK and I encourage Luton businesses to take advantage of this fantastic opportunity and apply for their place on the programme.

“Since the start of the pandemic, we have already delivered grants to support over 10,000 businesses through a variety of funding streams. We are currently engaging with our intermediaries to provide a new, comprehensive package of support to businesses, which will be launching soon. For more information on business support in Luton, please sign up the Think Luton Newsletter here.”

Cranfield University is already a hub for aviation expertise, research and development. In 2019, the University was designated a University Enterprise Zone and awarded £1.2 million from Research England to help create a UK Aviation Innovation and Technology Entrepreneurship cluster, which is due to be completed next month.

The University already has the Cranfield Eagle Lab on site, a business incubator facility for early-stage companies in the AvTech sector. Developed in partnership with Barclays, the Eagle Lab offers office facilities and communal maker space for businesses at the initial stages of their product design.

AVIATE+ funding is being used to build grow-on workspace for businesses, including private workshops and benches to enable the assembly of larger components with the support of appropriate power and data connectivity.

For more information on the Luton Council Ready for Scale Aviation programme, and to apply for one of the fully-funded scholarship places, visit: www.cranfield.ac.uk/som/lutonscholarships.

The closing date for applications to the programme is 17 December 2021.

To find out more sign up for our online briefing event on 15 November 2021.