The Inspirational Innovators programme brings together an inner circle of ten of the most inspiring emerging business leaders in the region. Facilitated by Sussex Innovation’s expert consultancy team and headed up by chief executive Nigel Lambe, it has been designed to help businesses continue to scale and plot a course through the disruptions of the pandemic, Brexit and Net Zero.

Why a peer network?

Facilitated peer networks based on action learning principles have been shown to help business owners benefit from collective experience and practical insights, challenge their perspective on the opportunities and threats in their industry, hold each other accountable and support open and reflective practices.

“We’re delighted to be working with the South East Local Enterprise Partnership to deliver this new initiative with some of our region’s brightest business minds,” says Nigel Lambe. “This peer network will be an excellent way for us to harness one of our biggest strengths as an organisation; our community.

“Every day, we get to see examples of the unpredictable benefits that can come from hosting a broad range of different perspectives and experience under one roof. One of our biggest challenges in 2020 has been finding ways to keep making these kinds of ‘chance encounters’ happen in a world of remote work – they’re an incredibly valuable part of the business incubator experience that can be a catalyst for new ideas. It’s good to have an opportunity to facilitate that source of inspiration through a formal peer-to-peer offering.”

Who are the selected scale-ups?
The hand-picked cohort of some of East Sussex’s most exciting growing businesses includes:

Ambiental – flood mapping and risk analytics platform based on global satellite imaging.

• At School Online – virtual learning environments offering live, face to face teaching.

• Bedlam Brewery – one of the region’s fastest growing craft beer breweries and distributors.

• Care Opticians – comprehensive home eye test service for elderly and disabled patients.

CTEC Energy – cleantech engineers, designing and building systems to repurpose waste heat.

Emteq – bringing sensor technology into VR headsets for direct, objective biofeedback.

Giroux – data consultancy, warehousing and analytics for the insurance industry.

Gogo Roos – high protein, low carb and gluten free cereal brand.

• Mindlab International – market research consultancy specialising in implicit testing.

• One Research – patient recruitment and communications agency for clinical research.

• Just Helpers – ethical cleaning contractors committed to a living wage, training and advancement opportunities for their staff.

The sessions, held over the first quarter of 2021, will feature a mix of keynote speakers, group action learning and one-to-one mentoring, incorporating new and emerging business management theory.

The Sussex Innovation team are currently interviewing the cohort to diagnose their biggest strategic goals heading into the new year, with the content of the sessions to be based around the common challenges faced by business leaders.

Embedding disruptive innovation
Group facilitator Nigel Lambe, along with Head of Marketing, Helena Jevons and Head of Programmes, Claire Pasquill, will come to the peer-to-peer sessions freshly armed with insights from The Harvard Business School’s Disruptive Innovation course, which Sussex Innovation is applying to its range of consultancy approaches.

Based on the work of influential business guru Clayton Christensen, these tools are designed to help strategic decision-makers understand how disruption works, determine when and how to invest in core versus disruptive business models, and how to mount an effective defence against disruption in an evolving industry.

Examining strategic decisions with an analytical eye and a predictive framework can help businesses to spot potential threats and opportunities sooner, make the right strategic moves faster, drive innovation and position themselves for long-term success.
This can involve applying theories of causality to understand why things happen the way they do, or to accurately predict the impact of different business decisions.

This programme is part of the national Peer Networks initiative, overseen by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy. The scheme is managed in East Sussex by the South East Local Enterprise Partnership and East Sussex Growth Hub, and has received funding from East Sussex County Council.

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