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27 April 2021

Dorset LEP secures further £300,000 for business leader support

Peer Networks Logo

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has secured a further £300,000 to bring its successful Peer Networks programme to more of the county’s business leaders in 2021/22 

Funded by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS), this national initiative is designed to bring small and medium enterprise (SME) business leaders together in facilitated sessions to share experience and expertise. Dorset’s award is equal third highest in England, with only Greater Manchester and Lancashire receiving more, and reflects the success of the inaugural scheme in 2020/21.   

Lorna Carver, Director Dorset LEP said: Having worked with our delivery partners to deliver such a fantastic programme of support last year, we’re delighted to be able to keep the momentum going with this significant award for 2021. The size of the allocation we have secured for this year is a direct result of the success and impact of the programme last year.   

The Peer Networks programme is administered by Dorset Gateway (Dorset LEP’s growth hub) and will be delivered by three delivery partners; Evolve Members, Dorset Chamber  who were both involved in last year’s programme and - Dorset Business Mentors.   

Working virtually in cohort groups of 11, sessions are facilitated by experienced business coaches and focus on key areas of business development. Each participant is also supported with dedicated one-to-one support, allowing them further opportunity to digest and discuss aspects of running and growing a business.  

Dorset LEPs Director, Lorna Carver added: “Feedback from last year’s participants on the value and benefit of Peer Networks to their businesses has been outstanding. It’s a testament to our delivery partners for running such effective programmes. Eligible businesses can register their interest in this programme now and we look forward to helping more of Dorset’s fantastic SME business leaders and decision-makers benefit from this support over the coming months.”   

Matthew Goode, Director of Marketing at BH Live who was part of 2020’s cohort said, “It’s been a rare opportunity to take time out to reflect on one’s own performance while soaking up new (and old) knowledge and encouragement from a group of peers that really helps maintain focus to drive results and being an effective leader.”  

Dorset Chamber Chief Executive, Ian Girling said: These types of programmes build incredibly strong bonds, friendships and trusted support networks which last long after the course has officially finished. The new programme couldn’t have come at a more important time as businesses look beyond the pandemic and to the future.” 

Warren Munson, founder of Evolve Members said: In delivering the first phase of the Peer Networks programme we saw incredible collaboration and support being given by the participants to each other.  As a result, as well as some significant commercial outcomes individuals have been able to develop and grow themselves as business leaders.”  

Alistair Bayliss, Joint Programme Manager for Dorset Business Mentors said: “Growing any business involves solving problems, setting goals, and a plan. Peer-to-peer action-learning sets are a really powerful tool to support this process.  Dorset Business Mentors is delighted to offer two groups: Women in Business and Management & Leadership.” 

The Peer Networks Programme is free for owners, directors and senior managers whose business employs between 5 and 250, has been in operation for more than 12 months and has a minimum turnover of £100,000. 

For more information and to register for the Peer Networks programme, visit the Dorset LEP website:


Notes to Editors:

Dorset LEP

Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership is a business led private and public sector partnership, promoting local economic growth and prosperity. Dorset LEP deliver projects that support and develop infrastructure, housing, skills, enterprise and business growth to achieve long-term economic benefit for all in Dorset. 

For more information visit the Dorset LEP website

Dorset Gateway

Delivered by Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), in partnership with Dorset Chamber, Dorset Gateway is part of the national Growth Hub network, providing an informed and bespoke service, free to any Dorset-based businesses looking for help to source appropriate available solutions for growth and development.

Dorset Gateway offers free and impartial business advice, signposting to other support and funding opportunities to help businesses grow. As the central information and support hub for all businesses in the county, Dorset Gateway also provides access to a range of business engagement and innovation networks, and a fully funded bid-writing support service for businesses across Dorset.

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