24 October 2014 15:04

UK technology firms are being urged to take advantage of an innovative support programme designed to break down barriers to establishing business links with China.

Lancaster University has devised the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme – an innovative two-year engagement programme providing more than £70,000 worth of assistance to technology-focused companies that forges research partnerships with Chinese companies to create new products and services.

The university is looking for dynamic UK businesses to take part in the second cohort of the programme, which starts in 2015. A special launch event is being held between 5.30pm and 8pm on Monday, October 27 at the Lancaster University Management School.

Mark Bacon, Director of Business Partnerships and Enterprise at Lancaster University’s Faculty of Science and Technology, said: “We are actively looking for dynamic technology-focused UK businesses that are interested in exploring the potential of establishing links in the world’s biggest growing market and innovating new products and services with the support of a leading university.

“This programme provides a unique opportunity for businesses. We are offering an unrivalled package of support that takes advantage of the skills and research excellence at Lancaster University, and builds on our long-established links and knowledge of working with China.

“We are confident that the Lancaster China Catalyst programme will result in growth, new technologies and job-creation for participating businesses and demonstrates Lancaster University’s commitment to ensuring our research is translated into real community and economic benefit.”

Launch event attendees will hear details of how they can benefit from a staged package of support from Lancaster University that includes: benefitting from the university’s long-established links with China; having graduates with expertise in areas such as engineering, design, entrepreneurship, computer science and environmental sciences, working within the business developing new products and services for global markets; an executive program to equip businesses with the knowledge required to successfully do business in China; and support from leading Lancaster academics as well as experienced UK and China-based support teams.

The first cycle of 15 businesses recently visited Guangdong Province, China’s most populous, and met with more than 100 suitable Chinese firms.

Attendees of the launch event will also hear from participants of the first cohort to get their views of the programme first-hand.

Speakers at the launch include:

• Nick Burd, Programme Director of the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme.
• Steve Bradley, Lancaster University’s Pro-Vice Chancellor for International Development.
• Clive Drinkwater, North West Director of UKTI.
• Ben Herbert, Director of Research and Environment at Stopford Energy and Environment Ltd (A first cohort company).
• Kam Kothia, Managing Director of E-Business (Another first cohort business).

There will also be opportunities for panel discussions, a Q&A session and networking.

Businesses interested in attending the event can register by visiting http://china-catalyst.eventbrite.co.uk

It is expected that the programme will generate £40 million for the economy, following an investment of just over £5.1m. This includes £3.582m from HEFCE, £720K from SMEs, £500k from Lancashire County Council and £320k from Lancaster University.

More than 400 UK businesses are expected to benefit and 240 jobs created as a result of the programme.

Lancaster University has a nationally-leading reputation for working with UK SMEs. Since 1998, the university has worked with more than 5,000 SMEs to help provide economic growth and this year was one of only three universities to receive a Gold Small Business Charter Award.

Partners in the project are the Chinese Academy of Sciences (CAS) and the Guangdong Provincial Government, Lancashire County Council, Local Enterprise Partnerships and business growth hubs, Chambers of Commerce, UKTI and the China-British Business Council.

More information about the Lancaster China Catalyst Programme is available by visiting www.lancaster.ac.uk/china-catalyst