31 May 2017 10:19

A new £4.1 million business support project will help Cumbria businesses grow by accelerating the research and development of new products and services.

Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria are launching the ‘Cumbria Innovations Platform,’ which will signpost and deliver technical and management expertise to assist in the commercialisation of new ideas to the county’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs).

This project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, and creates an entirely new research and innovation gateway. The diverse range of expertise available through the project means this opportunity is open to businesses from any sector.

The project will launch on 14th June at Rheged where Cumbria businesses are invited to find out what’s on offer, start to think about innovation, and hear from other SMEs who have received similar support from universities. Places at the event can be booked by visiting: https://cumbriainnovations.eventbrite.co.uk

Stewart Kember, Cumbria Innovations Platform Programme Manager at Lancaster University, said: “Change is accelerating at an ever increasing pace, and for business this means exciting new opportunities and new markets to explore. The Cumbria Innovations Platform will help unlock the growth potential of enterprises across all sectors of the county’s economy.

“The programme provides targeted expertise to help businesses research and develop the products and services that will enable innovative Cumbrian companies to raise their productivity and competitiveness.”

John Berry, Development Manager supervising the project at University of Cumbria said: “Locally Cumbria is recognised as having high performing pockets of innovative companies. This unique approach of offering creative development alongside technical support will ensure that companies right across the county have the opportunity to develop new products through the provision of an innovation eco-system.”

Lancaster University Management School is offering a six month Innovation Development Programme for Cumbrian SMEs. This programme aims to create a supportive environment for peer-networking; where business leaders can generate new ideas, explore and test opportunities, challenge each other, and learn the tools and knowledge needed to accelerate the final innovative business idea.

The University of Cumbria offers a complimentary programme of workshops exploring different elements of the innovation cycle, including innovation infrastructure, ideas generation, market analysis and opportunities, concept development, product development, commercialisation, and funding, IP and barriers. SMEs can attend all workshops or pick those that are of interest.

For businesses who want to test or develop ideas for a new product or service, the project provides access to a range of cutting-edge science and technology equipment worth over £45 million, and bespoke consultancy to help each business progress their ideas. Chemistry facilities include magnetic resonance, mass spectroscopy, x-ray, microscopy and nanofabrication for characterisation and analysis of materials. Lancaster’s Engineering Department has design, build and testing capabilities, which includes additive manufacturing (3D printing). In addition, Lancaster’s Quantum Technology Centre can support the development of photonics and 2D materials.

A technical team from Lancaster’s School of Computing and Communications will also be able to utilise business data to explore new digital product concepts and monetise underused company assets and knowledge.

Interested businesses can find out more by emailing cuspenquiries@lancaster.ac.uk, by calling 01524 510444, or by visiting www.cumbriainnovations.org