Aston University Innovation Vouchers Scheme launched nationally


12 October 2012

An Innovation Voucher Scheme originally developed and managed by Aston University has been launched nationally by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) to promote external knowledge sharing.

The national scheme will provide start up, small or medium-sized enterprises with the opportunity to apply for up to £5,000 worth of vouchers so that they can collaborate with external experts to gain new knowledge to help their business innovate, develop and grow.

The new scheme follows a similar structure to the Innovation Vouchers Scheme first established by Aston University in 2007 which aimed to build links between universities and small to medium- sized enterprises (SMEs) by creating a demand-led approach to supporting the innovation process.

Aston University is available as a potential supplier for Technology Strategy Board Innovation Vouchers.

Dr Phil Extance, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Business Partnerships at Aston University said: ‘When the Innovation Voucher Scheme was first developed by Aston University, we recognised that SMEs often struggle to forge links with universities and tap into the expertise they have to offer.  The voucher scheme was designed to help businesses in the West Midlands support their research and development by building links with universities and their academics. We are delighted that the vouchers we developed and pioneered will now be launched nationally by the TSB’.

Dr Extance added: ‘Under our scheme over 660 SMEs participated and 46% of SMEs had no previous experience of working with a university. Even more encouraging was that as a result of the voucher 56% continued to work with a university, and we are sure that nationwide rollout will provide opportunities for new relationships between SME's and universities and a much needed boost to stimulating innovation SMEs during the difficult economic climate.’

Examples of previous innovation voucher winners who had no history of collaboration with universities but continued their relationship after the scheme ended include:

Accutronics Ltd, developers and manufacturers of custom rechargeable batteries for professional applications. Accutronics Ltd used their voucher to design new ways of encasing rechargeable batteries to meet demanding environmental conditions by using detailed market analysis undertaken by Aston University academics. Accutronics Ltd continued their work with Aston University by entering into a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to embed an operations strategy process into their business to maintain commercial advantage.

TTC2000, the UK’s leading company in driver awareness training, used their innovation voucher to improve their management and leadership tools to underpin a planned period of rapid expansion.  TTC2000 still have a strong relationship with Aston University, currently collaborating on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership to measure the effectiveness of their speed awareness courses through the assessment of impact, knowledge retention and likelihood of participants’ intention to reoffend. 

For further information about the TSB innovation vouchers scheme, visit https://vouchers.innovateuk.org/. To find out more about how your business can benefit from working with Aston University, please email bpu@aston.ac.uk, or call 0121 204 4242.