A new partnership between Leeds Beckett University and Bruntwood SciTech aims to boost the long-term sustainability, growth and success of businesses in the Leeds City Region – supporting them to embed innovation and management skills, access talent and entrepreneurial training.

The collaboration will build a culture of innovation within start-ups and small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the region, through access to academic consultancy, student and graduate work placements, and the established expert business support services and mentoring provided by Leeds Beckett and Bruntwood SciTech – at Platform in Leeds city centre. 

Platform is Leeds’s ‘home of tech’ and is part of Bruntwood SciTech’s network of innovation districts. It is the base for over 100 digital and tech businesses, including startups, scaleups, and large corporate organisations. Platform’s specialist Tech Hub offers a range of business support to new and early stage companies including access to finance, talent, partners and new markets.

Professor Peter Slee, Vice Chancellor of Leeds Beckett University, said: “Our new partnership with Bruntwood SciTech here in Leeds demonstrates our shared commitment to driving innovation in the region. Together, we will create a new engaging and innovative environment in the heart of Leeds for our students, graduates and academics to come together with entrepreneurs across the city.

“As an anchor institution in the Leeds City Region, we are proud to work with Bruntwood SciTech at Platform to provide a physical space in the centre of Leeds for us to engage with SMEs in the city and support their resilience and growth.”

Deb Hetherington, Head of Innovation, Bruntwood SciTech – Leeds, said: “A key aim of the new partnership is to establish the management capabilities of the small business community – including leadership skills, strategic thinking, and business productivity – to give them long-term sustainability. We are committed to supporting our businesses through their ambitious growth journeys, and a large part of that support comes from our extensive partner network.

“Leeds Beckett University offers a wealth of SME support that has already added value to the start-up community at Platform. We are excited to continue to work together to support the city’s ambition to grow its culture of innovation.”

Through the new partnership, Leeds Beckett and Bruntwood SciTech will:

  • Link up SMEs with academic experts to engage in consultancy and knowledge exchange research projects.
  • Create opportunities for business and management students and graduates to work on bespoke projects and take on apprenticeships, work placements and full-time job roles within businesses.
  • Run free events and mentoring sessions – including guest lectures from academic and industry experts, networking events and one-to-one mentoring.
  • Develop joint research and innovation funding bids to work together on new projects.
  • Provide access to Leeds Beckett business support experts on-site at Platform in the heart of Leeds.

Businesses will be able to take advantage of established Leeds Beckett initiatives including:

  • Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) – government-funded innovation projects where a skilled graduate and team of academic experts work with a business to achieve a specific goal.
  • The Small Business Leadership Programme (SBLP) – funded by the Government, run by the Small Business Charter and delivered by Leeds Beckett academics through a series of free webinars to support the recovery, growth, and long-term productivity of SMEs following the pandemic.
  • The Accelerate programme – funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – a series of online masterclasses for start-ups and businesses in their first three years.

As part of their final year assessments, Leeds Business School undergraduate and MBA students partner with industry clients and deliver between 70 and 100 consultancy projects every year. Businesses at Platform – including business and technical change delivery consultancy, Perform Partners – are already working with Leeds Beckett students on eight consultancy projects. The new partnership will open up this opportunity to an even wider pool of businesses across the city.

Rob Smith, Director of Perform Partners, said: “I am delighted Perform Partners have started collaborating with Leeds Beckett University and we are establishing a strong relationship. We are currently working with a group of MBA students who are carrying out a market intelligence project for us which will help to shape our strategic direction. We are very keen to work with the students to help provide them with real world experience and support growth in the region.”

The new partnership between Leeds Beckett and Bruntwood SciTech supports Leeds Beckett’s network of University Business Centres – based in Halifax, Wakefield, and Headingley – which offer physical and virtual office services, alongside business advice, mentoring, and professional training.