UWE takes part in £3.75m Innovation Voucher scheme to support South West SMEs

Issue date: 20 February 2013

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Small to medium sized companies in the South West can now get support to access UWE Bristol's expertise, helping them to innovate and grow. Under an exciting new European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) scheme, businesses can use subsidised vouchers to purchase academic support and research support from universities, colleges and public research bodies.

Offering up to 40% support for projects with a total value ranging from £3,000 to £10,000, the scheme aims to build links between the regional knowledge base and SMEs through creating a demand-led approach to supporting innovation.

“We are interested in any innovative approach to the specific challenges SMEs identify”, explains Innovation Voucher Project Manager Robin Bower. “We can support most types of innovation – for example ideas for new or improved products, processes and services, or using design to improve a business. The key issue businesses need to be clear on, is that this should represent a real innovative challenge, not just a small improvement or change to what they currently do.

“The scheme aims to open up the knowledge, facilities and expertise that resides in academic and research organisations, providing financial support and guidance to SMEs to match their needs with the best knowledge provider.”

Tracey John, Head of the Research and Business Development team at UWE said, “UWE has a wide range of expertise businesses can tap into ranging from product design, automation and robotics, to environmental advice and manufacturing.”

Led by Universities South West (the membership association of the region's 13 universities) and delivered through a collaborative partnership of member universities and Further Education Colleges, the scheme is a £3.75m boost to create a culture of innovation and growth in SMEs.

The scheme is open for applications from now till early in 2015 with Innovation Vouchers available to businesses with fewer than 250 full-time employees located anywhere in the South West England Competitiveness Area; an annual turnover below £40 million, and in an ERDF-eligible sector.

Businesses wanting to find out how they can use Innovation Vouchers to access UWE's expertise can contact clare.rowson@uwe.ac.uk

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