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Case Study: The Progress Group

The SME Productivity & Innovation Centre (PIC) at Edge Hill University delivers impact through an intensive fully-funded programme that helps established SMEs, with the vision and potential for growth, build a coherent business model strategy to scale-up.

“The Rapid Innovation Sprint Programme has completely transformed The Progress Group. The programme gave us space to holistically look at our strategy to scale-up. As a direct result of the programme, we have been awarded over £1.2m in funding and are pursuing a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with Edge Hill University. I would encourage all SMEs looking to grow to participate!”

Sumita Chopra
Transformation and Innovation Director – The Progress Group

The challenges

Sumita Chopra, Transformation and Innovation Director at The Progress Group entered the Rapid Innovation Sprint Programme to formulate a commercialisation strategy for a new virtual learning service for Progress Schools, a subsidiary of The Progress Group. Central to this was developing a business case for investment in resources and new technology. The integrated technology platform would allow Progress Schools to provide a seamless and engaging journey for young people by applying the Department for Education guidelines in both a virtual and hybrid environment. The demand for such capability had been exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic, which saw a sharp rise in the number of young people with Education, Health & Care (EHC) plans, and a high number of fixed and permanent exclusions. The organisation would also benefit from improved efficiencies and productivity through the realignment of processes to ensure the best outcome for the students.

The opportunity

Facilitated by Edge Hill University, The Progress Group recognised an opportunity in the market for the provision of virtual education services aimed at schools and local authorities (including the delivery of enabling projects). Exploring the opportunity in terms of scope and capability is where the SME Growth Experts added value in terms of research to ensure the new service was capable of generating recurrent revenue streams as part of the commercialisation strategy.

The key changes

Achieving scalability for The Progress Group started by exploring the market opportunity in-depth, facilitated by Edge Hill, designing a Virtual Alternative Provision offering and discussing the opportunity with key internal and external stakeholders and partners. From this The Progress Group realised a bold and innovative approach to virtual learning was required. However, to successfully do this, they needed to secure investment from their board of investors to deliver this transformational project over the next four financial years through an accelerated business growth plan. The development of a business case for investment funding in resource and new technologies was also needed to enable the growth plan and increase profitability. Securing funding from their board re-profiled the business model to underpin the accelerated growth plan which aimed to increase turnover by 350% and recruit 20 new roles by 2025.

The plan and outcomes

The Progress Group used the latter stages of the programme to devise their Growth Action Plan and plan for the new service launch. As a direct result of the programme, Edge Hill University and The Progress Group have secured £200k in Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) funding. The partnership will embed Artificial Intelligence (AI) capabilities to support the ongoing design and delivery of Virtual Alternative Provision of secondary education to learners unable to attend physical mainstream schools. The Progress Group were granted over £1m in innovation funding from their board two months following completion of the programme to successfully develop and launch their new service offer. New digital technology adoptions were also required to integrate into the new service along with the recruitment of a number of new roles. Through streamlining the service delivery and processes, The Progress Group have increased their efficiency by 25%. The online fully-funded Innovation Sprint Programme has provided The Progress Group with a model system for use by customers and by end users which will be further enhanced by a Knowledge Transfer Partnership with the University.

The LCR High Growth Programme is specifically designed to support high growth (or high growth potential) businesses in the Liverpool City Region to adapt, innovate, and grow; get in touch with one of our account managers to see how we can support you and your business.

Rapid Innovation Sprint Programme is part of the LCR High Growth Programme that is part funded by ERDF and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and delivered by Growth Platform – Liverpool City Region Growth Company.