One of the biggest challenges of explaining what we do at Sussex Innovation is that it’s genuinely too much to fit into a neat sentence, or even a neat couple of paragraphs. If a business owner asks me what we could do to help her company grow, the simplest way to start is by asking, ‘What do you need?’.
Some of our members join us specifically for the workspace and facilities that we can offer them, others are seeking an academic address and a connection to the University of Sussex. Still more see the benefit in being surrounded by other growing businesses, offering each other advice and sharing the highs and lows. Some find us through our Catalyst team of graduates helping them with a project, or by working with our investment readiness and investor matching scheme. And then there’s ‘business support’; a big, vague description that encompasses much of the day to day work for me and my colleagues.
With the start of a new year, we’ve had a chance to reflect on how we approach this kind of consultancy work, and are launching a new programme designed to offer strategic advice in a more holistic way.
Work with our Task Force
We’re offering a new ‘Task Force’ consultancy package worth nearly £2,000, and by virtue of our position as a University incubator, we’re able to offer it at a highly discounted rate to SMEs with high growth potential.
Our senior innovation consultants will examine your business plan, pitch deck, marketing proposals, financial projections or key business challenges before assigning a hand-picked team to meet with you, share their expertise and go through the challenges and opportunities through a variety of different lenses. It’s a quick and effective way of carrying out a ‘deep dive’ into your business and what it needs to help it grow.
The strength of this collaborative approach is that it enables you to take a step back from the practical demands of running a business and bring diversity of thought to your strategy. We’ve seen first-hand how easy it is to get too close to your plans to think creatively about how else you can reach your goal.
Our aim is to diagnose the smallest interventions that could have the biggest impact, come up with simple and lean strategies, and as far as possible, equip your team, and you as a founder, with the skills and confidence you need to take things forward. These are a few of the approaches we’ve found most successful:
Research and Insight
Research is a pivotal aspect of innovation, helping new ideas to find their marketplace, customers and competition, and underpinning strategy. It can also be a useful marketing and positioning tool, particularly when you need to communicate a unique value proposition or specialist expertise. Our research team subscribes to industry-leading market insight resources from the likes of Frost & Sullivan, as well as conducting our own qualitative interviews and research surveys.
“The idea of a research project immediately appealed to us, but we wouldn’t have considered that approach, or had the resources to pull it off, without the team’s help. It got us a foot in the door, directly helped us to reach a range of potential clients, and ultimately helped grow our business.”
Alistair Crombie – Founder, One Research
Business Modelling and Financial Planning
Sussex Innovation’s senior team are highly experienced at thinking creatively about business models, being open minded and spotting opportunities to improve a concept. We use the excellent range of Business Model Canvas tools developed by the start-up experts at Strategyzer to help define companies’ value propositions and pin down an adaptable one-page business model. Our accounts team have also developed simple tools to interrogate the financial model of new and evolving ideas.
“I was looking for support with breaking down my idea in a structured way so that it was digestible and tangible. The workshop provided a good foundation for the development of the business proposition and business plan.”
Brenda New – Founder, VisuaLearning Academy
Branding and Positioning
Successful businesses keep the customer at the heart of their marketing decisions. Our facilitated workshops are designed to get straight to the point, helping to define straightforward branding, positioning and messaging with the tools that our marketing advisors have refined over years of working with growing companies.
“We brought them in to do branding and messaging. It was cost-saving, incredibly useful, incredibly efficient - it happened within seven days of us asking. It allowed us to reformulate the marketing that we were looking for.”
Mark Hla – Co-founder, Thrivemap
Interested in taking a step back from your business and redefining your priorities for 2020? Get in touch to find out more about our Task Force service by visiting info.sinc.co.uk/enquiries and telling us more about your business. A limited number of Task Force briefings will be available on a fully-funded basis.