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Cash pot launched for growth-hungry businesses

Money

25 October 2016

  • Innovation Vouchers scheme offers up to £2,500 to help small to medium sized enterprises create innovation and growth
  • Aston academics to give companies an innovation workout to promote competitiveness

SMEs in need of a cash injection to drive innovation and growth could be eligible for up to £2,500 in this year’s Innovation Vouchers scheme.

Every £1 a company can put up towards innovation and growth will be matched with a £1 contribution from the project. The typical Innovation Voucher is £2,500 which means eligible businesses can unlock a total business innovation fund of £5,000 to access external expertise with knowledge base organisations (research institutes).

The EU funded initiative, managed by Aston University, Birmingham City University and University of Wolverhampton, was set up to help smaller businesses pay for new processes and systems that will improve efficiency and help bring new products to market.

Selected SMEs will also be able to access business innovation workshops ran by leading academics from all three universities to encourage competitiveness in the relevant marketplace and to give advice on how to manage business innovation and growth more effectively – all free of charge.

The money can be spent on:                                     

  • Developing a new product or process
  • Developing a new business model
  • An efficiency audit or process change
  • Managing supply chains and logistics
  • A new service delivery initiative or customer interface
  • A new service development
  • Testing a product or service
  • An economic impact assessment
  • An innovation or technology audit

Dr Nicholas Theodorakopoulos, Head of Work and Organisational Psychology Group at Aston Business School and Director of the Innovation Vouchers project said: “Aston has a long history of working with SMEs. Innovation Vouchers were launched to promote external knowledge sharing in business. The regional scheme will provide start up, small or medium-sized enterprises with the opportunity to collaborate with external experts to gain new knowledge to help their business innovate, develop and grow.

“After the success of 2007-2013 Innovation Voucher projects, Aston in partnership with Birmingham City University and University of Wolverhampton has received funding from the European Regional Developing Fund (ERDF) to work with SMEs in the Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Black Country and the Marches.”

The funding may also be used, with limitations, to exploit advances in web technologies for the region and/or industry, market research, and equipment, capital items, or software purchases to develop prototypes.

The workshops on offer include ‘Envisioning for Growth through Innovation’, ‘Strategy and Leadership for Innovations, and ‘Marketing and Finance for Innovation’. All events start at 9.30am and finish at 5pm.

    

Workshop

Date

Location

Envisioning for Growth through Innovation

11/11/2016

Birmingham City University (C321)

04/01/2017

Wolverhampton Solutions Centre

10/02/2017

Birmingham City University (C321)

08/03/2017

Hereford Business Solutions Centre

05/05/2017

Birmingham City University (C321)

06/06/2017

Telford Business Solutions Centre

Strategy and Leadership for Innovation

18/11/2016

Birmingham City University (C321)

11/01/2017

Wolverhampton Solutions Centre

14/02/2017

Birmingham City University (C321)

15/03/2017

Hereford Business Solutions Centre

16/05/2017

Birmingham City University (C321)

13/06/2017

Telford Business Solutions Centre

Marketing and Finance for Innovation

24/11/2016

Birmingham City University (C321)

25/01/2017

Wolverhampton Solutions Centre

27/02/2017

Birmingham City University (C514)

29/03/2017

Hereford Business Solutions Centre

30/05/2017

Birmingham City University (C321)

27/06/2017

Telford Business Solutions Centre

If you would like to receive an Innovation Voucher or book a place on any of the business innovation workshops, visit www.aston.ac.uk/innovation-vouchers, email innovation-vouchers@aston.ac.uk, or call 0121 204 4303.

The scheme will be open to SMEs until April 2019.

ENDS

Notes to the editor

  • The Business Innovation Workshops are run on three specific topics by leading academics from Aston University and Birmingham City University. The workshops are funded by the European Regional Development Fund and therefore free to the participating company. On completion of min 2 workshops delegates will receive a prestigious “Managing Innovation in Business” Certificate.
  • The project has received £1,226,314 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Department for Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.
  • Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established research-led university known for its world-class teaching quality and strong links to industry, government and commerce.