The Heart of the South West LEP has launched a Peer Network programme, giving SMEs the opportunity to learn from successful businesses, to help to boost productivity and resilience.

The Peer Networks will be led by an experienced facilitator, with each network consisting of a minimum of 11 owners or managers from the SME business community across Devon, Somerset, Plymouth and Torbay. Participants will receive 18 hours of action learning through their network, with additional 1:1 support to receive tailored support. 

The programme aims to improve the resilience of SMEs, their capability to adapt their business models to position themselves for future success, and to drive longer-term productivity gains.

Active involvement in the Peer Network will enhance the leadership capabilities, knowledge and confidence of business owners and entrepreneurs within a local region, and help build local connectivity and strength within the SME business community.

Funding for the scheme has been committed for 2023/24, and will build on the success of the Peer Network Programme delivered across England through the Local Enterprise Partnership network since 2020.

The programme currently has six delivery partners, including Devon & Plymouth Chamber of Commerce, University of Exeter, Somerset Chamber of Commerce, School for Social Entrepreneurs (SSE) and SWMAS, all of which will be recruiting participants over the next few months.

Nick Golding, Director of SWMAS, said: “We’re thrilled to be part of the Peer Networks program, where businesses can come together to learn and grow. It’s a fantastic opportunity for business leaders to benefit from tailored support from others on the same journey, be it mentoring, coaching, or advice. We’re dedicated to delivering an enriching experience that helps businesses adapt and thrive.”

Sally Heard, Director of Development and External Affairs at School for Social Entrepreneurs, said: “This is a fantastic opportunity to empower business leaders with a social or environmental focus to navigate the path to future success. We’re dedicated to creating a supportive network, fostering resilience, enhancing problem-solving abilities, and empowering participants to strengthen their businesses and translate their newfound insights into action.”

Karl Tucker, Chair of the Heart of the South West LEP, said: “Through these Peer Networks, we aim to foster collaboration, resilience, and innovation, helping leaders navigate the ever-evolving business landscape. This initiative represents our ongoing commitment to empower and support SMEs, and by investing in our local business community, we are also strengthening our region’s economy.”