It was born of a recognition that many local business managers and owners were real experts in their fields – such as science and technology – but didn’t necessarily have sufficient general business skills. Early members wanted to learn not only from each other, but also from others who had already demonstrated talent for business growth and management. So from the start, the Network brought in successful, interesting people to talk and share their stories and knowledge.

Soon the Network expanded to a wide range of sectors, allowing for a rich cross-pollination of ideas. And we attracted funding from the Regional Development Agency, which recognised the value of the Network for the local economy.

In 2006, Norfolk Network first started working with students, particularly at UEA, when Lucy Marks started working at grass roots level, supporting the young entrepreneurs society. The partnership developed to help both parties, developing the role of small and medium enterprises in the graduate employment market. By 2012, the innovative nature of this relationship was recognised nationally, when Norfolk Network won the AGCAS award for excellence in careers service engagement.

While we have stuck to our founding core values, the Network continues to evolve and change. Regional funding for organisations like ours dried up in the recession, so by 2013 the Network became a membership-owned business. We have embraced social media, for both the Network and our members. And we’ve been a catalyst for other local business groups such as Hot Source. Whatever new developments we embrace, the Network remains dynamic, progressive and innovative – it’s this spirit that will make the Network and our members significant players in the economy for years to come.