Aston University is playing its part to support economic growth in the West Midlands by securing funding from the European Regional Development Fund to run a range of innovative business support initiatives to help regional businesses access the expertise available within the University to increase competitiveness, productivity and performance.
The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) is one of the funds established by the European Commission to help local areas stimulate their economic development. Aston currently has six active, and three recently approved ERDF projects, aimed at working with local Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) to help boost economic growth and job creation, encourage enterprise, and improve graduate employability.
Examples of the current ERDF funded projects include:
The European Bioenergy Research Institute which provides practical bioenergy solutions forcompanies and local authorities in the West Midlands, UK, Europe and beyond.
Servitisation in SMEs is a programme of free support to manufacturing SMEs in the West Midlands to help them to understand how to strengthen their relationships with customers, create new and resilient revenue streams and set high barriers for competitors.
Transformation for Growth will act as a catalyst for SMEs in the West Midlands to identify and implement strategies for transformation and growth, utilising a set of proven transformation toolkits and processes.
Graduate Advantage, an internship finding service to place graduates into internships with small, high growth companies.
An Innovation Voucher Scheme allows SMEs in the West Midlands to apply for a voucher worth £1,500 to directly link to support available from knowledge base providers. The scheme also provides free workshops to support SMEs with ‘Strategies for Growth’, ‘Access to Funding’ and ‘Leadership for Innovation’.
Other projects support technical areas including Photonics and Biomarkers.
Dr Phil Extance, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Partnerships at Aston University said: ‘We recognise that businesses, in particular SMEs, often struggle to forge links with universities and tap into the expertise they have to offer. Research at Aston tackles some of the major issues that impact on individuals, communities and businesses today. The ERDF projects currently running at Aston help us to work in partnership with businesses to transfer and apply this knowledge to create sustainable business solutions and inspire creativity, innovation and consequently growth.’
To find out more about the range of business support services available at Aston University visit www.aston.ac.uk/business or email firstname.lastname@example.org