Ambitious businesses in Dorset have a new opportunity to come together and work collaboratively as part of our new Peer Networks Programme.

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Peer Networks Programme
Peer Networks is a national peer-to-peerPeer Networks Programme networking programme for SME leaders that want to grow and develop their organisation. The programme is being funded by the government in response to the 2019 Business Productivity Review (BPR) and to help businesses recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic. Dorset Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) successfully secured funding to run the programme locally, via its growth hub, Dorset Gateway.

Why the Peer Network Programme is being introduced
The UK has a longstanding productivity challenge with labour productivity on average 13% lower than in the rest of the G7 countries. The UK's overall future productivity growth will, to a large extent, be determined by the performance of individual businesses and whilst the UK has some of the most productive businesses in the world, we also have many low productivity businesses.

The current effects of the COVID-19 pandemic combined with the transition into a new trading environment with the EU has the potential to further disrupt UK productivity but also presents an opportunity as businesses adapt their business models, create new ways of working and access new markets.

Peer networks work
Peer networks are integral for trusted advice. They help businesses navigate multiple stages in the business change cycle, can be called on time and again, and, through structured conversations, they can be focused to support specific issues.

The 2019 BPR found that those businesses that adopt formal management practices are more likely to achieve higher turnover, employment levels and productivity growth. Evidence collected as part of the BPR also found that businesses are most likely to look to trusted peers and professional networks for advice first, often leveraging their networks and existing relationships with intermediaries to signpost and help them to navigate the business support market.

Benefits from completing the Peer Networks Programme include:

  • Overcoming business challenges
  • Recognising and acting on new opportunities
  • Building a trusted network of connections
  • Supporting you now and in the future
  • Improving your long-term personal and business performance

About the Programme
The Peer Networks programme will see the creation of a series of peer network groups, with each group consisting of 8-11 directors or managers from Dorset's SME business community. Sessions will be led by an experienced facilitator utilising the action learning methodology – a proven and highly effective way of running peer networks. These peer networks will typically meet fortnightly as part of series of two or three hour sessions, totalling 18 hours of action learning.

Dorset LEP has received initial funding from the government to support 120 participants and we will be working with a range of experienced and proven organisations to deliver this support between October 2020 and March 2021.

Who is it for?
Peer Networks is designed for business leaders who want to grow and develop their organisation for future success. Leaders and senior managers from Dorset's SME business community who meet the eligibility criteria below are invited to register:

  • Operated for at least one year
  • At least two employees
  • A turnover of at least £100,000
  • An aspiration to improve business output

Ideally, these businesses will also demonstrate the ability and ambition to scale-up and/or export, or will be exporting already.

The programme is funded by the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) in response to a commitment made in the 2019 Business Productivity Review (BPR) and there is no cost to the business/individual participating.

Peer Networks Expression Of Interest Form