The Innovation Development Programme is a new programme delivered by Lancaster University Management School and has been specifically designed for senior decision makers of Cumbria based SMEs. This six month programme will provide you with the tools you need to explore new markets, adapt to a changing environment, identify opportunities for product and service development, and implement an entrepreneurial mind-set within your business.

Over six months, you will cover:

  • Customer, market, and competitor analysis
  • Idea generation, testing and validation
  • Developing dynamic business models
  • Creating an entrepreneurial culture
  • Innovation in practise

Programme elements

  • The programme begins with an Overnight Experiential (OE), which is a two-day (one-night) welcome event held in Cumbria. The OE features different idea generation exercises, focused discussions, and introduces the peer-to-peer learning process
  • Over the following 5 months you will participate in a series of one day workshops delivered by leading academics at Lancaster University and business experts in the field
  • You will experience a company visit and a tour of operations at a large regional company, which is intended to highlight best practice to learn how to overcome challenges
  • An Open-Innovation challenge will be set where you will work in groups to explore the structures and behaviours required for the implementation of an innovation-oriented culture


  • Gain access to specialist scientific equipment and technological expertise at Lancaster University, for research and development of your product and service ideas
  • Each cohort brings together a trusted group of business leaders with different skills, knowledge and experience to develop fresh perspectives
  • An opportunity to spend time actively working on your business, away from day-to-day distractions
  • Learn tools and techniques to accelerate the development of market opportunities and the commercialisation of new products/services 
  • Gain access to the series of popular Masterclasses run by Lancaster University Management School which includes talks from world-class and high-profile speakers for inspiration
  • There will be an opportunity for a group of MBA or undergraduate students to work on a specific area of your business through student consultancy projects

Cost and eligibility

 This programme is fully funded. It is available to European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) eligible companies.

Businesses must meet the ERDF criteria as below:

  • Based in Cumbria
  • Employ Fewer than 250 full-time employees
  • Has an annual turnover less than £40 million
  • Has received less than £160,000 of publicly funded support in the last 3 years
  • Is business to business


This programme forms part of the Cumbria Innovations Platform, a new collaborative project between Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria. This is a £4.1m project which is intended to accelerate innovation in Cumbria by driving transformative thinking and support the commercialisation of new ideas.

Learn more and apply

Our next cohort starts October 2018, applications are now open.

We're always happy to talk about how the Innovation Development Programme could benefit you. Please get in touch with us:

Speak to our Business Liaison Officer Pete Cornwall on 01524 510728 or,

Email us with your query.