£650k funding for enterprises in West of England

Issue date: 06 February 2018

Businesses in the West of England are set to benefit from £650k of funding, as the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) relaunches its Innovation 4 Growth (I4G) grant funding programme.

The popular initiative, which part-funds small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to carry out research and development (R&D) projects, opened for the fifth time today. Businesses and entrepreneurs have until midday on Thursday, 1 March 2018 to submit their applications.

SMEs from any industrial sector can apply, as long as they have a presence in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire and intend to carry out innovative R&D. Companies, start-ups, social enterprises and sole traders are all eligible.

Successful applicants will be issued with grants of between £10,000 and £75,000, which can be used to cover up to 35% of total project costs. Eligible R&D expenditure could include fees for consultancy, testing, trials or market assessment, as well as the purchasing of equipment, technology, machinery, materials and any associated training costs.

As a result of being supported to develop innovative new products, technologies, processes and services, grant recipients will need to commit to the creation of new jobs in the West of England, thereby contributing to the area's economic health.

Opening the latest round of I4G, which is financed through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research & Enterprise, said:

“As was the case with previous I4G funding calls, our dedicated team of UWE Bristol advisors will be hosting a series of confidential, one-to-one advice and guidance sessions for potential applicants at locations across the West of England.

“This support is something previous grant recipients appreciated and, along with the straightforward application process, makes I4G an attractive funding option for both long-established and start-up enterprises.

“Any SME looking to carry out innovation and R&D activities should register their interest via the programme's website (www.innovation4growth.co.uk). An application form, guidance documents and an invitation to a drop-in session will be sent to them in return.

“Successful applicants can utilise their funding for a wide range of projects. Previous grant recipients have undertaken activities ranging from software, 'app' and games development, to the refinement of innovative engineering, manufacturing and automotive products.

“Timelines can vary too. We anticipate that some funded projects will have a very short timeframe, while others might run right up to the final deadline of June 2019. The key message is that we are interested in funding a range of projects that reflect the diversity of R&D taking place among the West of England's business community.”

The I4G programme is one strand of UWE Bristol's wider innovation, enterprise and business growth offering in the region. The £16m University Enterprise Zone on its Frenchay Campus houses the Future Space business incubator and Bristol Robotics Laboratory (the UK's largest multi-disciplinary robotics research centre with its own incubation facilities).

The University's other ERDF-funded initiatives include Launch Space, which provides desk space and support for graduate entrepreneurs and is also based in the Enterprise Zone, and the Network for Creative Enterprise, operated in partnership with the Watershed and offering free workspace and business support in the creative sector.

“These programmes are evidence of our commitment to supporting the development of the regional economy,” said Professor Boddy. “They form an important part of our business support offering, alongside more established solutions such as student and graduate recruitment, collaborative research, consultancy and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

“We are really excited to be launching another round of I4G funding and look forward to supporting the next cohort of innovative businesses to meet their R&D objectives.”

From Monday 5 February to Thursday 1 March 2018 drop-in advice sessions for potential applicants will be offered at venues across the West of England, as well as in the University's Enterprise Zone and flagship £55m Bristol Business School building.

Expressions of interest can be made online at: www.innovation4growth.co.uk. For a confidential discussion about a potential application, or if you require more general information about the scheme, contact the I4G Team: innovation4growth@uwe.ac.uk.

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