£4m fund launched to boost innovation among West businesses

February 12, 2014
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Innovative businesses in Swindon and Wiltshire working on pioneering research and development projects can apply for financial help through a £4m innovation fund launched today by the University of the West of England (UWE).

Grants of between £25,000 and £150,000 will be available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) as well as large companies under the Innovation 4 Growth scheme, which is financed by the Government’s Regional Development Fund.

The aim is to help businesses develop new or improved products, technologies, processes or services – safeguarding or creating jobs as a result. It will also help underline the region’s already strong reputation for innovation, particularly in the tech, creative and green sectors.

Typically around 35% of the cost of an R&D project can be claimed by an SME, slightly less for larger companies. Eligible costs include project staff salaries and expenditure on materials, capital equipment, tooling, training and market assessment.

Speaking at the launch at UWE in Bristol today, the university’s Pro-Vice Chancellor, Research and Business Engagement Professor, Martin Boddy, said: “Right across the region, the fund will enable us to help businesses innovate and grow.

“Any company with plans for research and development, or thinking about an innovative project, should consider applying.”

Professor Boddy also set the scheme, which is being led by director of UWE’s Institute of Bio-sensing Technology Professor Janice Kiely, in the context of the university’s wider strategy to support the business sector.

“We are very proud of our long-standing reputation for collaborating with partners across many different sectors,” he said.

“We have been particularly successful at supporting innovation through our world-leading research and academic expertise.”

The university is the largest supplier of skilled graduates in the region and runs an award winning in-house service to help businesses find the skills they need.

It has also led EU-funded innovation networks – the South West iNets – which have already assisted hundreds of the region’s research and technology-focused SMEs. The iNets were highlighted in the recent Witty Report for the Government on the role of universities in encouraging economic growth.

Prof Boddy added: “The Innovation 4 Growth scheme builds on this experience and is further evidence of the commitment to enhancing prosperity and promoting economic growth stated in our 2020 strategy.”

The deadline for applications to the fund is Monday, March 10.

For more details go to www.innovation4growth.co.uk

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