Frequently Asked Questions

Who is High Potential Startups for?

Would-be entrepreneurs. New, potential startup owners who have yet to begin trading.


Organisations with an innovation culture or in the public sector that would be open to the idea of supporting intrapreneurship.

What support can I expect from High Potential Startups?

An intensive, high impact, immersive, thought-provoking, inspirational and practical programme of support that will both challenge and support you to develop your business proposition. High Potential Startups, delivered through workshops, coaching and mentoring, will help you think big. It will introduce you to best-practice thinking, disruptive and scalable business models, processes to help accelerate your idea, as well as guidance on how to form your team and establish your high growth business.

Applicants enrolled onto High Potential Startups will benefit from:

  • A series of six structured, intensive and highly immersive workshops designed to inspire and move you through the business planning process and towards business formation. Workshops will be complemented with a range of high-quality learning materials, tools and techniques provided both online and face to face.
  • One-to-one coaching will help you to develop yourself and your ideas.
  • Volunteer mentors and specialists who can support the development of your business.
  • Investor relations and investment readiness support with managed introductions to potential investors.
  • The offer of a grant to help you get your business off the ground.
  • Celebration events and connecting you with the High Potential Startups community.

Do I qualify for High Potential Startups?

To be eligible to take part in High Potential Startups you must:

  • Have a great business idea, based on a clear market opportunity, industry knowledge, technical expertise, business expertise and/or an established customer base.
  • Have not yet started your business, or it has been registered and is pre-revenue, which means you have not yet begun trading.
  • Have clear targets and goals for your business and believe that your business has the real potential to grow quickly and sustainably to achieve a turnover of more than £1m or more by the end of its third year of trading.
  • Expect you will start to employ people in the first year of trading and that by the end of the third year, you will have created four or more jobs.
  • Be a resident of one of the seven local authorities in the North East LEP area (Northumberland, North Tyneside, Newcastle, South Tyneside, Gateshead, Sunderland, County Durham).
  • Establish your business within the North East LEP area.
  • Meet State Aid criteria, which means you haven’t received more than 200,000 Euro in State Aid during the previous three years.

What does High Potential Startups offer me?

For entrepreneurs:

Free, expert advice and support to test market ideas, understand your customer base, fill skills and knowledge gaps, access finance and find co-founders. 

For businesses:

Free, expert advice and support to nurture intrapreneurship, helping to retain and motivate staff, nurture new ideas, and drive growth and investment opportunities.

What do the High Potential Startups workshops consist of?

If you are enrolled on High Potential Startups, you will attend six high impacts, inspirational and practical workshops that will help develop your business model. Workshops will feature live case studies of entrepreneurs who have started and scaled a high growth business, and a range of high-quality learning materials, tools and techniques provided both online and face to face.

How do I apply for High Potential Startups?

The first step is to complete a brief Expression of Interest form on From there, our Growth Hub Connector, Justin Souter, will be in touch to discuss your expression with you. If you are eligible and suitable for the programme, you will be invited to a pre-application workshop to develop a strong business case that effectively demonstrates growth potential or pre-start business concepts.

You will then submit an application to join the programme. As part of the application process, you will be asked to send us a short video piece about you and your business idea. You may also be invited to pitch to a selection panel.

What does the evidence tell us about entrepreneurs and startups?

To inform the development of High Potential Startups, a research project was commissioned that involved surveying and interviewing successful scaling startup founders. It identified that:

  • Many people who have scalable business ideas and the capability to exploit the idea are in relatively well-paid jobs, which suppressed the motivation to step over the line and to start a business
  • Each successful Scaling Startup was self-financed at the point of formation but many secured investment to fund growth in later stages
  • Each businesses started with at least one co-founder who delivered a complementary skill
  • Founders were confident that demand existed for their idea before deciding to start their business.