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Rail mentoring programme on offer to regional SMEs

Ambitious local firms in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area are taking significant steps into the rail supply chain through a new mentoring programme that provides exclusive access to senior decision makers within the industry.

Rail Mentor is a free initiative developed with industry experts within the Rail Alliance, a business to business networking organisation, and supported by the Greater Birmingham & Solihull Local Enterprise Partnership (GBSLEP). It aims to introduce SMEs with high-growth potential to global firms within the rail sector, with expert support available to at least 100 businesses.

Top tier organisations such as Siemens, Bombardier, Hitachi, Network Rail, and HS2 Ltd will be advising companies on how to shape their product or service to meet the high quality expectations of the supply chain. They will also offer a select number of SMEs access to their management team, meeting space at their facilities and coaching.

Mentees do not need to be operating within the rail sector to take part in the programme. SMEs that are unfamiliar with the industry, but are interested in accessing it, will also be put through a ‘gap closing’ process that offers coaching designed to introduce companies to the sector.

The Rail Alliance and GBSLEP will be on hand to help SMEs through the application process and can advise on the availability of financial support for companies who qualify. To date, 10 SMEs have signed up to the scheme.

Mike Lyons, GBSLEP Board Director for Improving Connectivity, said:

“HS2 and other connectivity projects in Greater Birmingham and Solihull are already making a significant impact on the local economy by helping to kickstart regeneration schemes, attract investment and create jobs.

“The Rail Mentor initiative will help local companies within the rail supply chain to unlock their potential, by giving them unique access to senior decision makers from the sector. The scheme will enable our SMEs to anticipate and address the needs of potential customers – helping them to better access the rail industry’s supply chain, and win more business as a result.”

The rail sector in the West Midlands* already produces £2 billion GVA and supports more than 40,000 jobs. The arrival of HS2 is estimated to add a further £3 billion in GVA to the local economy.

Jim Panter, Rail Mentor Manager said:

“We are absolutely delighted to be working with the GBSLEP team to support companies in this region wanting to either get into rail as a sector or to leverage more business opportunities. The market is huge and growing.

“The support from the top of the supply chain has been extremely encouraging and we have engaged with a number of the top tier organisations, manufacturers and principal contractors who have pledged their commitment to this programme and the companies who register.”

The programme is free but all applicants must operate within the Greater Birmingham and Solihull area. For further details on the programme, please click here.