UWE Bristol announces final funding round of the Digital Innovation Fund

Posted on

The University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) has opened its final round of the Digital Innovation Fund (DIF).  The scheme offers eligible businesses grants of £10,000 to £40,000 to undertake digital innovation.

The scheme has already supported 34 companies across the West of England and is offering businesses a final chance to apply for funding before the programme closes. Eligible businesses will be offered one to one support to develop their projects and application forms.

The scheme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund, offers small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in, Bath & North East Somerset, Bristol, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire grants from £10,000 to £40,000 to fund up to 35% of project costs. Projects must be completed by December 2022.

The deadline for applications is 12.00 (midday) on 16 November 2021

Apply now

Director of Research, Business and Innovation at UWE Bristol, Tracey John commented: “We want to fund strong innovation projects from dynamic businesses that are creating jobs in the region. This is a great time to support R&D activities that boost growth and competitiveness.  We actively support SMEs that are delivering digital innovation or research and development projects.  We provide one to one support for eligible businesses to help them through the application process. We are proud to support businesses in the West of England.


Notes to editors

European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive up to £1,900,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit here.

West of England region: All organisations with a presence in Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset and South Gloucestershire.

UWE Bristol to deliver Help to Grow: Management courses for SMEs

Posted on

UWE Bristol has announced the expansion of their delivery of the Small Business Charter accredited government-backed Help to Grow: Management programme, which includes 50 hours of in-depth training, 1:1 business mentoring, and the opportunity to grow your business, fast.

Aimed at senior leaders in small and medium businesses, the course covers strategies for growth and innovation, leading high-performance teams and digital adoption, as well as financial management and responsible business practices. You will hear from inspirational business leaders and learn alongside local peers, with access to a national alumni network.

By the end of the programme, you will develop a tailored business growth plan to increase productivity and grow your revenue and help take your business to the next level. 

The 12-week programme costs just £750 and is 90% subsidised by the government. You can take part around your existing work commitments and access learning through a blend of online and face-to-face sessions.   

Small Business Minister Paul Scully said:

“Seizing opportunity is what being a business leader is all about, and our Help to Grow Management Scheme gives entrepreneurs the chance to access the very best advice on how to innovate, reach new customers and boost profits.

“The practical training scheme is 90% funded by the government and designed around busy business owners’ schedules, so I would encourage entrepreneurs across the UK to get involved and maximise the potential of their business.”

UWE Bristol Programme Director Dan Knox commented:

“The Help to Grow Management Programme represents an excellent opportunity for SMEs to obtain support to grow, to identify new opportunities and to overcome business challenges.  We at UWE Bristol are delighted to be able to offer the programme across the south-west of England and to reach into the communities in which our regional SMEs operate. We are committed to working with businesses and communities to drive innovation, contribute to sustainable economic growth and to maximise the positive impacts of businesses in our region”.

UWE Bristol is running courses across the South West until March 2022 with more dates to follow. Find out more about the courses available and book your place.

Future Space Business produces technology to help tackle sustainability and climate change issues

Posted on

Future Space is part of UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone. They aim to drive the University’s ambitions to prepare students with entrepreneurial skills, spark collaboration between UWE researchers, innovators and entrepreneurs and commercialise the latest research.

Professor Steve West, UWE Bristol Vice-Chancellor and President, said:

“This is the latest venture that sets us apart as a technology-based university focused on generating opportunities for business growth and collaboration.

There is no doubt in my mind that fostering an entrepreneurial atmosphere on our campus is a win for our students and our research community, as we know that by collaborating and nurturing business we create a climate of innovation that has a ripple effect.”

Future Space is part of one of four University Enterprise Zones in the UK. The West of England University Enterprise Zone provides facilities and services to companies specialising in robotics, biosciences, medical technologies and other high tech sectors. 

Albotherm is a member of Future Space and they are focusing on developing technology that provides a solution to address climate change.

Here’s their story:

Albotherm was founded by a team of scientists turned entrepreneurs in 2020 with a vision to bring our planet one step closer to carbon neutral and ensure future food security with their passive cooling technology.

Air conditioning alone currently accounts for 20% of electricity usage from buildings and this is expected to triple by 2050 due to rising global temperatures. Using fossil fuel derived energy for air conditioning traps us in a ‘Catch 22’ as we are further warming our planet, creating even more demand for cooling.

At Albotherm we are developing coatings based on novel polymer chemistry that reversibly transition from transparent to white, passively cooling the structure they coat by reflecting solar radiation in hot weather. We can control the trigger temperature this transition occurs at, between 18 ℃ and 45 ℃ to create optimal conditions in a range of climates. Our technology works without electrical input, cutting down carbon emissions associated with air conditioning and removing our reliance on fossil fuels.

Our first product is a glass coating aimed at the Greenhouse Horticulture market. Greenhouses are designed to extend our growing seasons by increasing growing temperatures during colder months, hence the term “The Greenhouse effect”, however they are consequently prone to overheating in the Summer months.

Currently, greenhouses are painted with chalk based white paints each summer. This is a labour intensive process and also means light levels are reduced even on cooler summer days. Unlike these solutions, our coatings only turn white to shade crops when they risk being damaged by heat. This protects crops while maximising light levels in cooler days, boosting yields in an industry that has historically struggled with razor thin margins.

In the future, we plan to develop products for commercial buildings to reduce carbon emissions associated with air conditioning. At the moment air conditioning accounts for 20% of electricity usage from buildings and 10% of total global electricity usage. By applying our technology to windows and roofs, we can significantly reduce energy usage from these buildings to protect against the impacts of climate change.

Furthermore, another key benefit of our technology is the ease with which it can be retro-fitted. More than half of current global building stock will remain standing in 2050. On top of that, two thirds of UK homes do not meet energy efficiency standards. Is it essential that we improve the sustainability of the buildings we currently have and retrofitting is the only way to do that. As our technology is applied as a coating, it can be easily sprayed onto existing and new buildings.

To get in touch with Albotherm please click here

University Enterprise Zone Spotlight: Future Space

Posted on

Future Space is one of four areas that make up UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone. The below spotlight explains a bit about them:

Who we are

Future Space is an innovation centre, based on UWE Bristol‘s Frenchay campus, within the University Enterprise Zone. The centre offers a range of office space, laboratories, workshops, and coworking facilities designed specifically for high-tech, science-based entrepreneurs and innovators. Future Space is managed by Oxford Innovation, the UK’s largest operator of innovation centres, and manages a growing network of over 25 innovation centres in the UK.

A former head chef, a PhD in cancer genetics, and one of the region’s top 75 innovators; just some of the eclectic accolades of our Future Space Team. With a wealth of experience in business, and managing lab and workspace, we’re on hand to help entrepreneurs grow their businesses.

What we offer to business

There are many reasons why Future Space is a fantastic location for growing science and technology businesses: Purpose built laboratories; Customisable workshops; and a range of flexible offices and shared spaces. A distinct advantage is the positioning of the centre – on UWE Bristol campus and co-located with the Health Tech Hub and Bristol Robotics Laboratory.

We also have an onsite Innovation team to oversee all the business needs of our community and provide practical business support for our tech and life science residents. As well as running peer networks and 1:1 support, the team organises free expert advice for resident businesses, connects companies with the University, and designs and develops a varied support programme of workshops and Q&As.

An event held in the Hub Space of the University Enterprise Zone

How we work with UWE

Our Innovation team works closely with UWE Bristol to drive collaboration opportunities. If you are a small company in the early stages of development, it can be difficult to find the capacity to carry out all aspects of running the business as well as giving focus to building your product and services. The knowledge and expertise you have in-house is also likely to be limited. Universities can play a key role in helping SMEs grow, with access to skills training, student and graduate resource, academic expertise, and an abundance of practical advice.

Businesses based at Future Space have benefitted from more than 200 engagements with UWE Bristol, from the use of specialist equipment at the university, to funded business assist support through programmes such as the Health Technology Accelerator Programme and SABRE. This support has enabled companies to build new products and services, as well as giving access to valuable knowledge and technical expertise that is needed in the early stages of development.

You can read more in our recent article.

What’s new for 2021/2022

Student and graduate engagement with SMEs are a core focus in the centre, with residents offered fully funded UWE Bristol internships, as well as regular chances to pitch project briefs to degree and masters level students. This year we launched our new internship programme aimed at post-graduate students, as well as undergraduate students – more than 40 interns have been employed in the Future Space community over the years, and these internships bring in vital skills and talent to resident businesses. We will be developing this programme further in 2021/22.

This year, our team also got involved in UWE Bristol’s Digital Innovation Fund, delivering innovation training as part of the ‘Innovation & Bid-writing’ course, delivered to SMEs in the region. This was a great opportunity for SMEs and our Future Space community, and we are committed to working closely on future programmes.

Our strong affiliation with UWE Bristol brings a huge amount of opportunities for resident businesses, from student and graduate engagement, to innovation support, and funding opportunities. The impact of all of this work is seen in the great successes of our community, and you can read about some of these in our cases studies and blogs. We’re excited to see what’s next.

For further information about Future Space please contact info@futurespacebristol.co.uk

UWE Bristol’s Launch Space open for applications

Posted on

UWE Bristol’s Launch Space Incubator is now open for applications from aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage businesses. Based within the University Enterprise Zone (UEZ), Launch Space is home to high-tech, innovative start-ups with a strong focus on research and development. Applications are now open for the free business support, incubation, and acceleration services we provide for graduate entrepreneurs and early-stage businesses.

The Launch Space incubator and accelerator could be the place for you if:

  • you have a business idea you’d like to put into action
  • you’re a recent graduate, or in the early stages of developing your idea
  • you need support to validate and develop your business further.

With access to communal networking areas, use of professional meeting rooms, and on-site hot-desks, you can get ready to launch your business. Launch Space is home to existing graduate-led businesses at various stages on the start-up journey, so you’ll be working alongside others who have a common goal of making their vision a success.

Launch Space is open to graduate-led, or early stage, businesses with high-growth potential. We’re looking for those that are working on products and services across key themes:

  • Health and life science
  • Advanced engineering
  • Digital futures
  • Sustainability and climate change

Our new Launch Space programme will kick off with an exciting Induction day onsite in early October. Meet your peers, say hi to our Innovation team, and get your first glimpse of the science and tech community in our University Enterprise Zone.

A weekly programme of pitch events, boardroom advisor sessions and coaching sessions will kick start your start-up journey and help bring your idea to life.

If you’re a graduate entrepreneur, you may also be able to benefit from a £6,000 bursary to support you, while you focus on your new business.

Interested businesses will need to complete a short application form before being invited to an interview. Find out more about the application process here.

Mark Corderoy, Entrepreneur in Residence UEZ, commented:

“We are excited to be able to accept new applications to Launch Space. Launch Space gives those starting out or recent graduates with a business idea the support to be able to really focus on their start-up. The 1-on-1 support and access to expertise and facilities is invaluable for any new business”.

Find out more here.

UWE Bristol and Future Space listed as top Innovators in region

Posted on

TechSPARK recently produced their list of top entrepreneurs, techies and innovators who they have named the Top Innovators in the region.

TechSPARK is a not-for-profit network dedicated to connecting, educating and strengthening the digi-tech cluster in the West. They work with tech and digital businesses from Startups to Scaleups, SME’s to Global Corporations based in the region to help them to grow.

In 2019 TechSPARK compiled a list of top innovators from across the region to celebrate and recognise their achievements. We were delighted that the 2021 list featured Aimee Skinner, Innovation Manager at Future Space and Mark Corderoy, Entrepreneur in Residence at UWE Bristol.

Aimee said:

“I am thrilled to have been named as one of the region’s top 75 innovators. The list is brimming with innovative thinkers, future leaders, and entrepreneurs, and I am proud to be considered amongst them.”

Aimee has background in Environmental Science and a decade of continuous improvement experience in regulated industries. She is currently Innovation Manager at Future Space, as well as co-managing Bristol Innovators’ Group. Future Space is part of the University Enterprise Zone, based on UWE Bristol Frenchay campus, and managed by Oxford Innovation. In her role she actively supports the growth of start-ups and SMEs within the South West, providing a range of business support and advisory services, as well as running University engagement opportunities, such as a dedicated Internship programme for resident businesses.

Mark said:

“It’s really pleasing that our work in the University Enterprise Zone is being recognised. Launching a start-up is an ambitious venture for anyone, and we are always trying to find new ways to help these companies succeed.”

With a background in engineering and technology in a variety of commercial settings, Mark is an experienced Technologist and Mentor. He has been at UWE Bristol for last four years as Incubation Manager for the Bristol Robotics Laboratory the leading and largest academic centre for multi-disciplinary robotics research in the UK and also Incubation Manager for Launch Space, a programme that provides business support and space to start-up businesses in UWE Bristol’s Enterprise Zone.

To contact Aimee email ASkinner@oxin.co.uk and to contact Mark email Mark.Corderoy@uwe.ac.uk .



Free two day Innovation and bid writing workshop for SMEs

Posted on

Dates:  Wednesday 7 July and Thursday 8 July 2021

Develop a digital innovation business idea and get micro funding for your project. This 2 day in-person course (based at UWE Frenchay) offered by the Digital Innovation Fund (DIF) is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is free to SMEs in the West of England area.

This course is aimed at ambitious businesses working on a digital innovation project. We are looking for SMEs that want to develop their innovative ideas. This would suit those that want to develop their narrative and are working towards further funding and investment. We offer SMEs that have completed the course the opportunity to bid for micro grants of up to £5,000 to implement their ideas. Places are limited to 20 SMEs.

Book your place now. 

Introduction

As markets and conditions recover, investing in innovation is key to helping businesses future proof, grow their markets and adapt to opportunities. This intensive 2-day workshop is for SMEs that are responding to new opportunities and looking to disrupt the market through digital innovation.

You may already have a great idea that needs developing or you are looking for some headspace to figure it out. This comprehensive course helps you to define your proposition in terms of innovation; familiarise you with the funding landscape, develop your pitch and hone your bid writing skills. We also have a limited number of micro grants (up to £5,000) available through an application process for participants who complete the full course.

What will you get from this course?

This course is available to SMEs working towards a digital innovation project.

We will:

  • Introduce you to the fundamentals of bringing innovation into your business.
  • Give you practical innovation tools to help you generate creative ideas, evaluate and test them for your business.
  • Help you understand how innovation projects can be funded and how to write winning bids.
  • Give you the confidence, practical skills and techniques to pitch your idea.
  • Get a chance to bid for up to £5,000 to get your project going.

Because places are limited, we request that you commit to the full programme.  We expect participants to work in small collaborative groups and engage in peer-to-peer learning.

Is this course for you?

This course is designed to be relevant for SMEs or small charities that are developing innovative ideas and to turn these ideas into successful new products or services. We will help you to articulate your innovation projects and take your ideas to the next stage. 

This in-person course is funded by the ERDF and is free to SMEs in the West of England.  We have limited spaces as the sessions are designed to be interactive.  Apply here stating your business, area of interest and why you should be selected for the programme.

Timings

Doors open at 9:00 for coffee and networking. Lunch will be provided at 12:30pm-13:30pm.

Day 1:
  • Morning 9:30 – 12:30: Innovation and Ideation: how to solve your challenges with Aimee Skinner
  • Afternoon 13:30 – 16:30: The Innovation Narrative: Pitching your idea with Lucy Paine
Day 2:


Terms

  • Available for SMEs in the West of England LEP region (Bristol, Bath and North East Somerset, North Somerset, South Gloucestershire).
  • Open to SMEs that have not already attended a workshop or previously received a grant from the DIF programme.
  • Places are limited to 20 SMEs.
  • Only SMES that complete a business assist evidence form may apply for a micro grant.

Get in touch if you have any questions DIF@uwe.ac.uk. Click to here register your interest in this workshop.

Notes

This event is delivered by the Digital Innovation Fund and funded by the ERDF for the benefit of SMEs in the West of England. We will be guiding SMEs and Social Enterprises through the enterprise innovation and ideation process, creative design sprints and agile working practices to support new product design, improve resource efficiency and R&D activities. Your attendance at this event will count towards to State Aid and by participating, you are agreeing to ERDF business support and accompanying documentation


European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit here.

West of England region: All organisations with a presence in Bristol, Bath, BANES and South Gloucestershire.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: B-hive Innovations Associate Spotlight

Posted on

Photo: (L-R) Dr Robin Thorn (UWE), Barbara Dos Santos Correia (UWE), Mark Wilcox (Branston Ltd), Vee Gururajan (B-hive Innovations)

Based in Lincoln, our Knowledge Transfer Partnership with B-hive Innovations is our longest distance project. Despite this the project, which is now halfway through its two years, continues to move from strength to strength led by our KTP Associate Barbara dos Santos Correia.

This ground breaking KTP is investigating gases emitted by fresh produce and aims to develop a marketable solution for early detection of internal defects, which will ultimately improve crop utilisation and reduce food waste. We caught up with Barbara to find out how she has found the experience so far.

How long have you been a KTP Associate?

I started in January 2019.

What attracted you to the KTP role?

I was fascinated by the project and the option to work in industry with all the academic support. Having access to a £4,000 personal development budget is also great.

How is the partnership between UWE and the company working?

It’s working very well, and I think that’s down to the constant and open communication across the team. The benefits of this knowledge transfer are clear, both between B-hive Innovations and UWE and the knowledge and experience I am gaining.

What are the current challenges of your role?

I’d say the main challenge is translating complex academic knowledge into an industrial solution. But my supervisors Dr Robin Thorn and Professor Darren Reynolds at UWE and Vee Gururajan and Claudia Celemin Pardo at the company are really supportive and we tackle the challenges together.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

No two days are the same! It’s really motivating to know that every day I am leading a project that will potentially solve a real and significant industrial problem.

What do you think about the support available from UWE and the Company?

The support I have from UWE and B-hive Innovations is incredible and so much better than I was expecting in my first industrial experience. UWE offers a wide range of expertise and facilities and B-hive Innovations provides the invaluable personnel and confidential information. I feel like the partnership really represents a competitive advantage within the industry.

To find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities at UWE, visit our website


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are funded by UKRI through Innovate UK with the support of co-funders, including the Scottish Funding Council, Welsh Government, Invest Northern Ireland, Defra and BEIS. Innovate UK manages the KTP programme and facilitates its delivery through a range of partners including the Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN), Knowledge Bases and Businesses. Each partner plays a specific role in the support and delivery of the programme. 

 

UWE Bristol awards grants to local businesses as part of Scale up 4 Growth Initiative

Posted on

Scale Up 4 Growth (S4G) is a free programme of support, being delivered by UWE Bristol, NatWest and Foot Anstey, for businesses in the West of England that are looking to grow, expand and scale. As part of this ERDF funded programme, 27 successful businesses have been awarded grants ranging between £10k and £40k to help their businesses grow.

Since launching last year nearly 350 businesses have registered for S4G support, which also includes fully funded workshops and 1-to-1 expertise. The companies who applied for S4G grant funding were rigorously assessed through a competitive process. The 27 selected businesses received grants totalling £800,000.

The successful businesses have come from a big range of sectors and areas including digital, data, health tech, waste, recycling, media, microelectronics, b2b, social enterprise, as well food and drink businesses. The list ranges from an award-winning, independent, artisan bakery and café, to a company who have developed the world’s first chemical-free pool filter

Find out more about the Scale Up 4 Growth programme and hear from some of the businesses that were successful in receiving grants

See the website for the list of all successful businesses.

Programme Director, Tracey John commented:

“Scale Up 4 Growth is the in region to support the businesses that need some help to grow. It’s been great to work with the successful businesses that have got some exciting growth plans but just need that extra little bit of support that the University can give. Working with NatWest and Foot Anstey as partners on this programme has been fantastic and they have been hugely supportive throughout.”

Director Commercial Banking at NatWest, Matt Hatcher commented:

“NatWest has thoroughly enjoyed working with UWE and Foot Anstey on the S4G programme, helping SMEs get access to quality coaching, knowledge and funding to support their ambitious growth plans”.

Partner at Foot Anstey, Nathan Peacey commented:

“Foot Anstey have found the S4G programme both inspiring and rewarding”

The successful businesses met for the first time at a celebration event held at UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone on Wednesday 23 October. The breakfast event gave the businesses the opportunity to meet other successful businesses and share what the money means to them.

The Scale Up 4 Growth team continue to work with the successful businesses. To find out more about potentially funding opportunities and how we could help your business sign up to the Research, Business and Innovation newsletter from UWE Bristol or email uwebusiness@uwe.ac.uk

To find out more about S4G please visit the website.

Notes to Editors:

Scale Up 4 Growth will receive up to £1,200,000 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (MHCLG) is the programme’s Managing Authority. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects that support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships: ExtraCare Associate Spotlight

Posted on

[Photo L-R: Dr Geraint Jones (Innovate UK), Alex Sleat (UWE Bristol), Shirley Hall (ExtraCare), Professor Praminda Caleb-Solly (UWE Bristol) attending the quarterly review meeting at Bristol Robotics Lab]

UWE Bristol has been working on a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) with ExtraCare Charitable Trust. Based in Coventry, with a village in Stoke Gifford, ExtraCare runs retirement villages and housing developments and currently has almost 4,000 homes available for older people.

This KTP aims to develop expertise in smart living technologies, such as intelligent sensing and socially assistive robots. The project aims to explore what technologies are capable of improving service provision, increasing productivity, generating revenue and upskilling staff. We spoke with Alex Sleat who has been leading the project as the KTP Associate:

What attracted you to the KTP role?

I’ve been a researcher in academia for some time, so it was interesting for me to get to see lab research being utilised in the outside environment. The KTP partnership between UWE and ExtraCare is a great opportunity for this.

How is the partnership between UWE and Extracare working?

The partnership is going well, there’s a good level of communication between the two partners, and a lot of additional activity towards finding opportunities for future collaboration.

What are the current challenges of your role?

The main reoccurring challenge is finding technology that fits into people’s lifestyles, trying to figure out how technology will work for an individual and then conducting research around their busy schedules and in their own homes. Getting people to try new technology is always tricky, so it’s important that explanations are simple and the technology is bespoke enough to prove beneficial.

What do you enjoy most about your job?

Sometimes it’s obvious to see the positive effects of new technologies. Often technology that might have been overlooked, because it’s not directly designed for a purpose, has a huge impact and allows people to improve their day-to-day lives, wellbeing, health and independence. I spend a lot of time inside the retirement village, so have enjoyed getting to know the residents and watching the community grow.

What do you think about the support available from UWE and the Company?

Both UWE and ExtraCare have made me feel part of the group, and support and guidance from both sides has been tremendous when I’ve needed it.

To find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Partnership opportunities at UWE, visit our website