Funding boost for innovative West Midlands businesses

Funding boost for innovative West Midlands businesses

The Innovation Vouchers scheme offers up to £2,500 to help SMEs grow and be more innovative.

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.

For every £1 a company can put up towards innovation and growth, it 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, delivered 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.

If you would like to receive an Innovation Voucher and/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.