Case Study: Propelo

Propelo, based at York Science Park, is a successful business providing high-quality interim support to the education sector, nationwide.  Propelo work with schools, multi-academy trusts and local authorities during times of change offering expert level support in school leadership. This support is targeted and suited to the needs of the individual schools and projects. They also offer full-service recruitment support when a school or trust needs to attract new talent within its leadership team, working alongside governors and local authorities to get the right fit and overseeing this crucial process.

Propelo was referred to Make It York at the start of the COVID-19 lockdown period.  The unforeseen disruption to schools created an unclear plan of what lay ahead.  Louise Saw, Business Growth Manager listened to what the business was facing and was able to guide Propelo forward with clear signposting to the help they needed, opening up new networks, contacts and funding opportunities.  

With recommendation and support from Louise, Propelo applied with success to the Digital Resilience Voucher Scheme, offered through the Digital Enterprise project. This grant was to help businesses mitigate the effects of COVID-19.  They received match funding of £4.5k, allowing them to invest in and improve the infrastructure of the business. This provided warranties for IT equipment, new machines and access to software that improved how the business works remotely, enabling them to develop the efficiency of the business for the future. Louise has also provided connections and contacts to help support Propelo as the business grows.

Their profile within this essential sector and access to business support has enabled Propelo to weather the challenges faced early in the year, with a strong flow of new projects secured for the autumn.    

Propelo is continuing to work with Make It York as it looks to access further funding to develop their IT infrastructure and readiness for future growth.


“2020 has presented a real turning point for Propelo.  Working in the education sector, we faced an unprecedented situation at the start of lockdown with the threat of national school closures causing significant disruption to our operations.

We were in a position where we had applied for COVID-19 grant funding which hadn’t been successful and left feeling that there was no support available to aid us through this time of challenge. I was referred to Make It York through a colleague at York Science Park.  It was reassuring to find someone at the end of the phone who listened to the reality of what our business was facing, and which gave me an outlet to talk through the issues we were working through.

Louise provided clear signposting to grant funding that would help our business. Without her guidance and support we wouldn’t have accessed the Digital Resilience Funding, which gave us the opportunity to invest in making the business digitally resilient and much better equipped to continue working remotely.

This year has reframed every way we work, and we are fortunate to be in a better position at the other side of it all. This period of time has made many organisations in the sector think about their plans for the future – and that has led to us picking up a range of new projects and we’ve seen a strong flow of new opportunities. 

Our business journey is continually evolving, and it is reassuring to have access to support and guidance with clear signposting that ensures we find the right fit for our business.”

Phil Watt

Director, Propelo