SME CofE Awarded IOEE Centre of Excellence

A first-of-its-kind partnership has been formed to increase support for entrepreneurs and SMEs in kickstarting the growth of the UK economy post-pandemic.


To help boost the bespoke support to the businesses which will be so vital to economic recovery, the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs (IOEE) - the UK’s leading professional learning institute specialising in business enterprise and business support - has formed an alliance with the SME Centre for Excellence (SME CofE).


The SME CofE, based in North East England, becomes the IOEE’s first private sector Centre of Excellence - a status so far only given to leading public sector organisations, including some of the country’s most esteemed universities.


Through the partnership, the SME CofE will deliver qualifications and awards offered by the IOEE, and in the longer-term, the two organisations will work together to create a range of new accreditations.


The IOEE, which has been a leading name in UK enterprise support for over 20 years, said it has formed its partnership with the SME CofE through a joint commitment and ambition to providing the right support at the right time for businesses and entrepreneurs to start, survive and thrive.


It forms the latest stage of progress for the SME CofE, established by business and enterprise leader Ammar Mirza CBE in 2016, which has gone on to support thousands of businesses across its native North East and beyond with practical support, advice and guidance to help them achieve their ambitions and potential.


“We were very impressed with what the SME CofE have done in a short period of time, they are a very entrepreneurial organisation working in an innovative way, they’re very leading edge,” says Ruth Lowbridge MBE, chair of SFEDI Group, of which the IOEE is part.


“The leadership and management is very entrepreneurial, which is so important when offering such guidance and support to others, and we’re very pleased to have formed this strategic partnership and name them as our first private sector IOEE Centre of Excellence.


“We look forward to building this partnership and taking forward new ways of delivering enterprise education and support.”


Sarah Trouten, CEO of the IOEE, says: “We are delighted to welcome the SME CofE as our inaugural private sector Centre of Excellence, recognising the drive and dedication the SME CofE commits to raising standards of enterprise education and enterprise support within the North East and further afield.


“We look forward to working closely with Ammar and his team to ensure many more small and micro businesses have access to quality support which is absolutely vital for business survival and growth.”


Ammar adds: “We are very proud of the timely and tailored support the SME CofE has delivered to so many businesses, helping them to start, survive and thrive in both good and bad economic times. Now, our absolute focus is on helping SMEs and the leaders behind them to emerge from the pandemic in strong shape, equipped for the future and ready to play their role in rebuilding our national economy, focusing on three key enablers – innovation, internationalisation and digital transformation.


“Working alongside the IOEE in this national first partnership, we can take that support to the next level. It is a huge privilege to be working alongside an organisation which has done so much for so long in supporting entrepreneurs and promoting enterprise, and which shares our innovative approach and dedication to our goals.


“I believe that working together, and in partnership with the many businesses nationally who work alongside us, we can achieve great things and build back better.”




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