What is the aim of the scheme?

Who should apply?

Do I have to be an engineer to apply?

Can more than one person from my company apply?

Is my company eligible to apply?

Are there any regional restrictions?

What is the time commitment?

Do you cover travel and accommodation costs?

Only small companies are eligible to apply, what is your definition?

How will my proposal be assessed?

What criteria do the panel use when assessing applications?

Who will have access to my application and how will my company data be treated?

Can I reapply?

The programme sounds great, but I’m not ready to apply yet. What should I do?

Further information


What is the aim of the scheme?

To improve the leadership skills of those managing engineering start ups and SMEs in the UK, through which we aim to support pursuit of excellence in engineering.

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Who should apply?

We’re looking for leaders of engineering and technology SMEs that are experiencing scale-up ‘growth pains’. Applications from engineers and non-engineers are welcome – if you’re a founder, MD, c-level executive or equivalent, and you have plans to scale your SME, then you should apply. 

Your title doesn’t have to be c-suite, but you need to be in a decision-making capacity to make scale-up decisions. If not, the programme wouldn’t be suitable because the aim is to support leaders of scale-ups. 

The Academy is committed to diversity and welcomes nominations and nominees from women and other groups who are currently under-represented across engineering, as well as recognising the full breadth of engineering.


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Do I have to be an engineer to apply?

No, we are looking for leaders of engineering companies regardless of background. As long as you’re in a senior decision-making role, you can apply.

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Can more than one person from my company apply?

We can only accept one application per company, per round. If your colleague would also like to apply, they can do so in the next round (which will be in six months’ time).

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Is my company eligible to apply?

The Academy defines engineering in a broad sense, as can be seen from the range of past SME Leaders Programme participants, which includes robotics, medtech, clean tech, hardware, AI, automotive and materials.

Software companies must exhibit engineering as their core component and should be innovative and protectable. We unfortunately cannot support consultancies. If you are unsure that your company’s activities qualify as engineering, please contact the Programme Manager, Catherine Capone.

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Are there any regional restrictions?

The company must be based in the UK and registered with Companies House. For multinational companies, the Head Office must be based in the UK and the measures above must apply to the entire company, not just the UK office.

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What is the time commitment?

The programme will begin on 27 February 2020 and applicants must be committed to completing 1.5 hours of one-to-one coaching per month for six months.

Your leadership course(s) should be completed by September 2020, but there will be some flexibility if your chosen course falls outside these dates.

We also hold monthly workshops and events, of which we would expect awardees to attend at least three.

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Do you cover travel and accommodation costs?

For your leadership course and for compulsory events at the Enterprise Hub in London, we will cover travel and accommodation costs within the UK.

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Only leaders of SME companies are eligible to apply, what is your definition?

  • Employees < 250 people
  • Turnover < £50 million per annum
  • Leader = CEO, Founder, MD, CxO

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How will my proposal be assessed?

All applications will be reviewed by an assessment panel consisting of Fellows of the Academy with entrepreneurial and industrial experience and representatives from the investment community. Applications will be reviewed against the criteria listed in the guidance notes. Please read the Essential Guidance Notes carefully.

Each application is assessed and scored by at least two members of the Panel. The panel then meet in person and discuss all the applications and their assessments, and select which applications will be awarded invited to interview. Performance at interview will then determine who is awarded.

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What criteria do the panel use when assessing applications?

All applications will be assessed against the following selection criteria:

  • Quality, ambition and vision of the applicant
  • Effectiveness and innovativeness of technology, product or service described by the applicant
  • The potential for that technology, product or service to grow in scale (evidenced in business model/plan or strategy document uploaded by the applicant)
  • Potential benefits to UK economy (such as job creation) and/or expected benefits to wider public
  • How the making of an award would contribute to excellence in engineering
  • Impact the award would have on success of the applicant, his or her company, and therefore potential impact on UK engineering sector and UK economic growth
  • The potential shown by the applicant to make valuable use of the award and implement learning points

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Can I reapply?

Yes, providing you fulfil the programme's eligibility criteria. If you would like feedback on your previous application, please contact the Programme Manager, Catherine Capone.

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Who will have access to my application and how will my company data be treated?

The SME Leaders programme selection panel constitutes ten reviewers who agree to a confidentiality agreement before they join the panel. If they declare a conflict of interest with any applicants, they will not have access to that particular application. Members of the Enterprise Hub team will also be able to view the applications. Details of the applications will be kept confidential within the review process.

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The programme sounds great, but I’m not ready to apply yet. What should I do?

You can sign up for alerts when we next open the programme here and select Support for SMEs.

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Further queries?

If you have any queries after reading the Essential Guidance Notes and the above FAQs, please do not hesitate to contact us. All questions should be sent to the Programme Manager,  Catherine Capone.