UWE Bristol announces final funding round of the Digital Innovation Fund

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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.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership Case Study: Craven Dunnill Jackfield

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The Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) scheme is a UK-wide programme helping businesses to improve competitiveness and productivity. A recent graduate is placed within an organisation to help solve a business problem, with access to our academic expertise.

The below case study is from our KTP with Craven Dunnill Jackfield:

About Craven Dunnill Jackfield

Craven Dunnill & Co Ltd is a historic business, founded in 1872. It has been producing ceramic wall and floor tiles for 150 years and is the oldest surviving purpose-built tile factory in the world. It is part of the Ironbridge Gorge World Heritage site at the heart of Britain’s Industrial Revolution

The challenge the KTP was set up to address

Each individual project requires the application of ceramic modelling skills to create new working models and moulds for the restoration of architectural features and to interpret the complex three-dimensional shape of the item beneath the glaze layers of an original sample.

This is a highly skilled art, and ceramic modellers with this ability are few in number and expensive to employ. Across the industry modellers with the necessary hand skills are reaching retirement age and are difficult to replace which will significantly impact the future sustainability of the sector. The situation is a major bottleneck in the production process and limits the ability of the company to expand this part of the business.

The application of 3D technologies, specifically 3D scanning to derive the surface shape of the original ceramic pieces and 3D CAD to recreate the aesthetic of the original work, combined the CNC milling can be used to produce master models and moulds for the reproductions.

Why was a KTP the right mechanism to achieve this?

The KTP allowed us to test machinery and processes at the University in a way that would have been time consuming and expensive to achieve without the partnership. The CFPR’s knowledge of both ceramics and digital manufacturing technology were a perfect fit for Craven Dunnill’s needs. There are limited organisations with the knowledge of both subjects. Years of research from university staff fed into the project and allowed us to address the problems which arose when combining the traditional hand craft process with digital technology.

How did the KTP meet the need (the activities / solution)?

By utilising the expertise offered from the University, new technology was brought in to improve lead times and open new areas of business, specifically in 3D scanning. The development budget provided opportunities for learning new skills which were applied to the project.

Outcome – Impacts & Benefits

What changed as a result of the KTP?

Craven Dunnill invested in a CNC milling machine and a 3D scanner, both of which were required to embed digital design into their traditional mould making process. Moulds, tiles and artworks can be 3D scanned and manipu- lated to produce new block moulds, the block can be directly plaster cast from, saving time and cost.

As well as being utilised for mould making, CAD now plays a role in the initial contact with customers. Vector drawings and 3D models are used to visualise end products, before we commit to producing physical models.

Layouts for wall and floor tile are designed within Rhinoceros3D. This allows for tiles to be automatically counted and layout issues to be resolved before committing resources to a project.

Broad benefits and impacts for all partners, (including economic, environ- mental and/or social perspective)

For CDJ:

Having the 3D capabilities in house has opened up the possibilities of additional revenue streams. Many projects can now be completed in house.

For UWE Bristol:

The Centre for Fine Print Research has a strategic objective and a long history of collab- orating with industry that constitutes around a third of its research.

The success of the KTP with Craven Dunnill Jackfield will add to the Centre’s reputation for combining traditional methods with modern digital technologies both in academia and commercially.

The project validates this research and highlights the value of this method.

The initial concept used was based on an Arts and Humanities Research Board (AHRB) project conducted in the early 2000’s and the development of these ideas into a successful industrial outcome is likely to generate further research questions for investigation.

It demonstrates how embedding digital technologies into traditional processes can generate benefits for both of the partners.

For the KTP associate

As the KTP associate, I am very pleased with how the project concluded. KTP has opened doors for me and given me the opportunity to develop as a project manager. I have attended multiple courses and conferences over the project, developing both my key skillset (CAD/3D Design) and other elements which will improve my efficiency at work such as Finance/ management/business.

Quantifiable benefits (the numbers bit!)

  • Improved product development time by 72% (From 2 weeks of model making, down to 4 days)
  • Reduced development costs on specific projects by up to 79% (Based on price of model board compared to traditional block and casing)

What the partners are saying?

“Through a challenging time for businesses, the KTP programme has been a true shining light, surpassing our expectations as a Company. It is critical for a 150yr old Company like ours to stay dynamic and explore ways in which new technologies can support and compliment traditional craftmanship. The KTP has brilliantly highlighted the way in which business and academia can come together to develop new capabilities and embed them into our operations. ”

Simon Howells, Managing Director, Craven Dunnill Group

“The Craven Dunnill Jackfield, CFPR/UWE KTP project shows that a committed Company and Academic team combined with an excellent, dedicated Associate can overcome the difficulties and adversities of operating during a pandemic to drive through to success. The project has been very successful and has exceeded the expectations of both partners.“

David Huson Senior Research Fellow, UWE Bristol

“The KTP program has been the most exciting part of my working life to date. It has given me the opportunity to develop my skills and interests within 3D design and technology, whilst allowing me the opportunity to put into practice the knowledge developed during my degree. “

Jed Leonard-Hammerman, 3D Technologies Specialist Craven Dunnill Jackfield

“This project could not have been done without the unusually wide skill set of the Associate who was equally at home in the application of complex digital technology and the practical traditional skills required to manufacture three dimensional tiles together with the support of his academic and company supervisors”

Russ Bromley Knowledge Transfer Adviser

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

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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.

UWE Bristol’s Launch Space Incubator cohort takes off!

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The University of the West of England‘s 2021 Launch Space incubator cohort gathered for their induction last week at Future Space – Bristol. The day was led by Mark Corderoy from UWE Bristol and Aimee Skinner from Oxford Innovation.

Launch Space is for aspiring entrepreneurs and early stage businesses and is home to high-tech, innovative start-ups with a strong focus on research and development. The residents receive free business support, incubation, and acceleration services.

The group started off the day with a welcome from Tracey John, Director of Research, Business and Innovation, before hearing first hand from Arthur Keeling of indus four about their journey from UWE Bristol, to Launch Space, and into their current office at Future Space.

Next up were talks from key members of UWE Bristol’s University Enterprise Zone, including Shaun Jordan from RIF Bristol, and David Attwood from the Health Tech Hub, as well as the chance to speak with Andy Johnson from the Centre for Print Research about the fascinating work going on in their new location at Frenchay campus. After lunch, the group were thrown in at the deep end, delivering 90 second pitches to each other!

There were some seriously exciting #ideas, #innovations, and #entrepreneurs in the room, and we’re looking forward to seeing how they progress over the coming months.

‘As founder of VisitMôr, I am really excited to be on the UWE Launch Space business accelerator. The expertly led programme offers access to unparalleled specialist, technical and business support. It’s perfect to nurture the development of our new interpretation and visitor experience products  — these will be designed to help the museum, heritage, and conservation sectors to tell their own stories. We are also thrilled to be sharing our Launch Space journey with a talented cohort of fellow business pioneers; it will be great to share ideas amongst peers.’

Beth Môrafon, Founder/Director VisitMôr Ltd and Launch Space Resident.

Beth Môrafon, founder and director of VisitMôr, a public realm and visitor experience consultancy

UWE Bristol awarded ICA Mentorship Scheme by the National Institute for Health Research

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UWE Bristol has been awarded the opportunity to deliver the ICA Mentorship Scheme from the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR). The ICA Mentorship Scheme offers individuals holding doctoral or post-doctoral ICA awards the opportunity for free one-to-one clinical academic career mentorship by an appropriate mentor.

The scheme is positively received and recognised as providing a crucial layer of support to aspirant clinical academic awardees. As a result, and following agreements between HEE, NIHR and Versus Arthritis (a merger of Arthritis Care and Arthritis Research UK) mentorship through the scheme is also available to approved NIHR Fellowship awardees and nominated Versus Arthritis fellows.

UWE Bristol is in a unique position to be able to offer the ICA mentorship scheme through the combination of the UWE Bristol Business School (BBS), which offers accredited training in ‘Coaching and Mentorship’, and the multidisciplinary team of clinical academics that are hosted by the Centre for Health and Clinical Research (CHCR). The partnership across faculties within the university will provide an excellent opportunity to enhance and develop the existing ICA mentorship scheme.

The award commences 01 November 2021 and runs to October 2023, with the possibility to extend.

Fiona Cramp, Director of the Centre for Health & Clinical Research and Professor in Long Term Conditions, commented:

“We are delighted that UWE Bristol has been selected to deliver the mentorship programme for the ICA awardees; mentoring is an incredibly valuable aspect of the individual’s journey and will optimise their development during and after the funding period.  We look forward to bringing together a cadre of clinical academic mentors from throughout the UK to work with us in delivering this exciting programme.”

Lynda Williams, Associate Director Stakeholder Engagement Bristol Business School and Bristol Law School, commented

“The Business School is delighted to work with our colleagues from CHCR in delivering the mentorship programme for the ICA awardees. We feel that our individual areas of expertise will complement each other well to provide an excellent partnership and learning opportunity for ICA awardees.”

Find out more about the scheme.


Information from the partners:

Health Education England (HEE) was established on 28 June 2012, working as a shadow Special Health Authority from 1 October 2012. It took on its full operational responsibilities from1 April 2013. It has five national functions:

  • providing national leadership on planning and developing the healthcare and public health workforce;
  • promoting high quality education and training that is responsive to the changing needs of patients and local communities, including responsibility for ensuring the effective delivery of important national functions such as medical trainee recruitment;
  • ensuring security of supply of the health and public health workforce;
  • appointing and supporting the development of LETBs; and
  • allocating and accounting for NHS education and training resources and the outcomes achieved.

For more information on HEE visit our website or follow us on Twitter– or Facebook.

The mission of the National Institute for Health Research (NIHR) is to improve the health and wealth of the nation through research. We do this by:

  • Funding high quality, timely research that benefits the NHS, public health and social care;
  • Investing in world-class expertise, facilities and a skilled delivery workforce to translate discoveries into improved treatments and services;
  • Partnering with patients, service users, carers and communities, improving the relevance, quality and impact of our research;
  • Attracting, training and supporting the best researchers to tackle complex health and social care challenges;
  • Collaborating with other public funders, charities and industry to help shape a cohesive and globally competitive research system;
  • Funding applied global health research and training to meet the needs of the poorest people in low and middle income countries.

NIHR is funded by the Department of Health and Social Care. Its work in low and middle income countries is principally funded through UK Aid from the UK government.

Digital Skills short courses and bootcamps

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In our fast-evolving digital world, digital skills are vital. For businesses and individuals alike, a strong set of digital skills can help to navigate through the constantly changing digital environment.

At UWE Bristol, we want to support individuals and businesses on their digital journey. We have a range of skills short courses to suit a wide variety of needs including cyber security, data science and artificial intelligence; and games development.

Some of our skills courses are fully funded or have discounts available to those eligible. Find out about how we can support your business or individual needs below.

The future is digital. The future is now.

Commercial Games Development

This bootcamp introduces games development and how to create immersive, entertainment experiences in context of what makes game products engaging and commercially successful. The first half of the course is designed to build professional skills and software competency. The second half specialises in the development of a “vertical slice” game demo for prospective employers from commercial studios as a portfolio piece, or to form the basis of a portfolio ahead of self-employment. There is also the opportunity to learn about the application of games technology for commercial purposes other than those solely for entertainment.

This 16-week programme will provide you with an overview of how games are developed, towards a goal of polished, engaging entertainment products across a range of sectors. Central to your experience will be training in Unity; a game engine and real-time development platform with many applications both inside and outside the entertainment industry.

Find out more here.

Games Technology

The industrial application of games technology bootcamp has been developed through collaboration between senior academics with professional games industry experience and a rich array of serious games, immersive learning and visualisation/simulation projects behind them, in conjunction with small and medium Bristol-based game companies and start-ups and the Foundry Technology Affinity Space at UWE Bristol.

This bootcamp introduces games development and how games technology can be used to create engaging, immersive, games and non-game experiences for industry and the workplace.

Find out more here.

Cyber Security Bootcamp

Technology is transforming society; from how we do business to how we socialise, travel and communicate and we are increasingly dependent on the computer systems that drive these processes. This dependency means that we’re vulnerable to cyber-attacks; our personal data can be stolen, and our national institutions, critical infrastructure and the technology that drives our society can be compromised.

The Cyber Security sector is growing, and demand for Cyber Security specialists is growing exponentially across all sectors of the economy including public and private enterprises, both large and small, and critical national infrastructure, such as energy, transport, water and finance.

Find out more.

Zero Carbon Bootcamp

More information to follow. Please complete this short form to be the first to hear about this course.

Data Science & AI

  • Full details to follow
  • Closed cohort of women
  • Cohort aimed at 19-25 year olds but open to all
  • Will learn mathematics and computer programming, data science, software development, machine learning & AI approaches
  • Funded by the West of England Combined Authority

Apply via the website, or directly via the ROI form.

UX Design

  • Full details to follow
  • Closed cohort for those living with health conditions or impairments
  • Learn advanced aspects of UX design for digital platforms, responsive design for smart phones and robots, access ‘Disability confident’ employment and understand UX design trends
  • Funded by the West of England Combined Authority

Apply via the website, or directly via the ROI form.

Cloud-based Skills

  • Full details to follow
  • Delivered by Weston College in Partnership with Microsoft Learn
  • Cohort aimed at 19-25 year olds but open to all
  • Master Microsoft cloud-based apps
  • Understand and use Microsoft Power Platforms
  • Funded by the West of England Combined Authority

Apply via the website, or directly via the ROI form.

Two-day Innovation and bid writing workshop

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Tues 21 & Wed 22 Sept, 09:00 – 16:30

Develop an innovative business idea and learn how to get funding for your project. This 2 day in-person course (based in Swindon, venue tbc) offered by the Innovation 4 Growth programme (I4G) is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and is free to SMEs, start-ups or small charities in the Swindon & Wiltshire region.

This course is aimed at ambitious businesses working on an innovation project. We are looking for SMEs that want to develop their innovative ideas, cultivate their narrative around the project and are working towards further funding and investment.

We are delivering this course while our Innovation 4 Growth grant funding is available and hope that some participants will use the workshop to create, or further progress their project idea to then successfully apply for an I4G grant.

Places are limited to 20 SMEs, and we welcome prestart as well as established businesses, the content will be relevant to all sizes of SME.

Register to 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 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.

What will you get from this course?

It is a practical workshop with plenty of discussion and interaction, with time allowed to develop your project as we work through each section.

This course is available to SMEs working towards an innovation project.

We will:

  • Introduce you to the fundamentals of bringing innovation into your business.
  • Give you essential innovation tools to help you generate creative ideas, as well as evaluate and test them for your business.
  • Improve your understanding of how innovation projects can be funded and how to write winning bids.
  • Provide you with the confidence, practical skills and techniques to pitch your idea.
  • Support your application for our Innovation 4 Growth grant fund and create a foundation for future applications.

As places are limited, we request that you commit to the full two-day 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 wish to turn these ideas into successful new products or services. We will help you to articulate your innovation projects and take them to the next stage.

This in-person course is funded by the ERDF and is free to SMEs in the Swindon & Wiltshire region. 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.

Tuesday 21 Sept – Day 1 :

  • 9:30 – 10:30: Intrapreneurship – creating an intrapreneurial mindset for growth with Shane Moore
  • 10:30 – 14:30 (including an hour break for lunch): Innovation and Ideation: how to solve your challenges with Aimee Skinner
  • 14:30 – 16:30: The Innovation Narrative: Pitching your idea with Lucy Paine

Wednesday 22 Sept – Day 2:

  • 9:30 – 12:30: Introduction to Funding & Investment with Mark Corderoy
  • 13:30 – 16:30: How to write an innovation funding bid with Alan Gould

Terms

Available for SMEs in the Swindon & Wiltshire LEP Region.
Places are limited to 20 SMEs. Get in touch if you have any questions innovation4growth@uwe.ac.uk.

Click here to register your interest in this workshop.

Notes:

This event is delivered by the Innovation 4 Growth programme and funded by the ERDF for the benefit of SMEs in the Swindon & Wiltshire Region. Your attendance at this event will count towards State Aid and by participating you are agreeing to ERDF business support and the 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.

UWE Bristol’s Launch Space open for applications

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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

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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 .



Innovative SMEs gather to develop their digital innovation business ideas

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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.