Innovative SMEs gather to develop their digital innovation business ideas

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People in a room networking

On the 7 and 8 July 2021, UWE Bristol hosted an in person innovation workshop for SMEs in the region. The workshop was funded as part of UWE Bristol’s Digital Innovation Fund, which was is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

Innovation leads came together to deliver interactive creative workshops to SMEs. The sessions provided much needed time for small business owners to get away from their desks or kitchen table. For most this was the first time since early 2020 that they had been in a workshop or networking environment. The attendees worked on innovative ideas with like-minded people and got their mindset and innovative concepts ready for funding. The delivery team included Thanh Quan-Nicholls (Digital Innovation), Aimee Skinner (Future Space), Mark Corderoy (Launch Space), Lucy Paine (Innovation for Growth) and Alan Gould (Lightholm Consulting).

The workshops were held at at Future Space, part of the University Enterprise Zone.

Businesses learnt techniques for ideation, honed their pitching skills, learnt about investment and funding, and fine-tuned their bid-writing skills. Businesses also had to rapidly solve problems, pitched for chocolate and became bid reviewers. Future Space transformed their networking space into a spacious and safe area for businesses to gather and it was wonderful to see the space so lively!

Thanh Quan-Nicholls, Digital Innovation Lead UWE says:

“So much has changed over this last year and as the markets recover it is important for SMEs to dedicate time for innovation as this will be the key to their future competitiveness and growth.

It was great after so long to see businesses working together in person – at these events, businesses also learn from each other and this is the part that is hardest to recreate remotely. Businesses told us they find meeting other innovative businesses empowering and motivating. The warm and inspiring cohort reminded us of best of the region’s spirit of collaboration and diversity.”

The businesses sectors were very wide-ranging, including creative technologies, visitor economy, edtech, legaltech, not-for-profits, engineering, software and marketing. They included new start-ups right through to established businesses.

Businesses attending get to bid over the next few weeks for micro grants of up to £5000 to implement their ideas. This forms part of UWE’s commitment to providing a supportive and accessible business infrastructure.

Tracey John, Director of RBI says:

“Putting time into upskilling disruptive businesses and helping them access new opportunities is a key part of ensuring diversity and economic growth. We are creating a pipeline of innovative and ambitious businesses for the future.”

Find out more about the Digital Innovation Fund here.