‘Acceleration hubs’ to boost region’s advanced engineering and digital firms

April 9, 2018

More than 200 advanced engineering firms and digitally-innovation small and medium-sized enterprises from across the West of England are to gain access to expert support and advice through two new ‘business acceleration hubs’ 

The University of Bath.has been awarded £1.5m from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to deliver start-up, scale-up, open innovation and investment support to grow 100 digital-led businesses and 130 firms in the advanced engineering sectors over three years.

The advanced engineering hub will ‘pump prime’ SMEs to engage with the university’s planned £60m automotive research facility – the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS), pictured – scheduled to open on the Bristol & Bath Science Park in 2020. 

IAAPS will play a central role in building this SME network by providing access to world-leading expertise to build their capacity and learning, as well as its state-of-the art facilities.

The digital innovation hub will work with SMEs to benefit the health, wellbeing and creative media sectors.

Support will be provided in a number of ways including grants of up to £10,000, knowledge exchange, mentoring, research and innovation expertise and resource, business-university research partnerships, as well as bringing SMEs together with large corporate businesses though existing investor networks.

The university will work with a number of key external partners including the West of England’s four local authorities. 

The senior lead on the project, University of Bath director of research & innovation services Dr Jon Hunt said: “This is another example of how the university undertakes business engagement and enterprise activities to support its research base. 

“The long-term impact of the project will be a much-improved innovation eco-system, where local SMEs will establish deep long-term relationships with the university that are mutually beneficial.”

Professor in Human and Applied Physiology in the university’s Department for Health and programme lead for the digital innovation hub, James Bilzon, added: “This project will enable the university to offer its expertise and facilities to work with businesses to undertake research, development and innovation leading to the adoption and commercialisation of new products, services and technologies that will drive this sector’s growth and productivity, particularly in the health and healthcare sectors.”

Acting head of enterprise Adam Hickman, who successfully secured the funding, said the project demonstrated the true definition of a partnership project and showed how the university could play an important role in delivering the government’s Industrial Strategy. 

“This is the third ERDF grant we have secured, allowing us to make a lasting difference to economic growth and academic-business partnerships in the region.”

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