23 May 2016

North West SMEs with commercial ideas to benefit the environment can tap into research expertise, facilities and funding to bring their ideas to fruition

The award-winning Centre for Global Eco-innovation (CGE) at Lancaster University is looking for innovative small and medium enterprises who have ambitions to develop an environmental service, product or process, but who don’t have the in-house research expertise to develop their idea.

“Businesses have usually got a vast number of good ideas for innovation, what they haven’t got is the time and the resource to develop them,” said Dr Andy Pickard, manager of CGE.

“This scheme provides both: it gives companies the services of a dedicated PhD researcher, supervised by a world-leading academic, as well as access to the facilities and expertise of a top ten university.”

Over the past four years the Centre for Global Eco-innovation has worked with 300 SMEs, including 54 long term R&D projects with businesses, undertaken at PhD level.   The work of the Centre was recognized as the ‘Outstanding Knowledge Exchange and Commercialisation Initiative’ category in The Impact Awards 2015, backed by all seven UK research councils.

The R&D projects included research into pollution mitigation, creating new materials and generating energy from waste, improving water quality and developing new renewable energy technologies.

“One hundred and ninety new products, processes and services came out of the research, benefiting the businesses involved and creating new jobs.

“We are now looking for another 30 business led projects and already have 1600 excellent applicants interested in undertaking these R&D challenges as part of their research for a PhD, so the standard of research is going to be very high,” said Dr Pickard.

“We want to find suitable projects now so that we can find just the right researcher to work with each business, who will be involved in the recruitment process,” said Dr Pickard.  “Our aim is to recruit dedicated researchers to start the projects in October. The £100,000 cost of the three year programme will be mainly funded via the Centre, with the SME asked to make a small contribution.

“The projects should be both innovative and be focused on delivering an environmental benefit. They are ideal for businesses that have a great idea that they would love to pursue but who are too busy focusing on the day job. Or it could be that a business recognises that the market place is changing and needs someone to be looking ahead and identifying new opportunities.”

Lancaster University is one of only four UK universities to achieve the Small Business Charter Gold Award and is ranked in the top ten for interactions with SMEs by Government.

If you have a clearly defined project already, you can register on our portal in minutes, and one of our team will contact you.

To discuss your idea or to find out more contact Dr Pickard via email on a.pickard@lancaster.ac.uk