Free two day Innovation and bid writing workshop for SMEs

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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.

Case Study: Digital Innovation Fund Business Landmrk

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As part of a suite of support offered to SMEs during the pandemic, last year we launched the Digital Innovation Fund. The programme, which was funded by the European Regional Development Fund, was open to SMEs in the West of England region who were looking to digitally innovate.

Over the past 6 years, UWE Bristol has worked with thousands of SMEs across the region, helping them to grow and innovate.  This has led to the investment of £10,000,000 and creation or safeguarding of over 1400 jobs. As well as offering funding, these programmes offer: dedicated one to one support for SMEs through the project design and application process; support in delivering a successful project once it’s been funded; and a series of workshops and hackathons.

The Digital Innovation Fund has successfully funded 36 companies, awarding grants of up to £40,000 and support to everyone who engaged with the project. Below we share the story of one the successful SMEs, Landmrk:

Landmrk allows artists and brands to create virtual ‘treasure hunts’ that encourage fans to explore the real world to find digital content. However, the COVID-19 pandemic devastated the music industry and caused all touring to stop, ultimately halting business for Landmrk.

As the severity of the COVID-19 pandemic became clear, the reality of months at home set in. During these times there has been an even greater need than ever for escapism, distractions and (self-isolated) fun. Landmrk, often called Pokémon GO for music, diversified their offering and created the Virtual Tours product, with help from a Digital Innovation Fund grant, in response to this.

The Virtual Tours platform gives artists the opportunity to deliver a branded experience to their fans. As the tour rolls into town a hotspot will open up at the venue. Fans within travelling distance of the gig will be able to unlock a series of content pieces that are delivered to them from their favourite music artist.

The Virtual Tours product allows artists to generate a new revenue stream through paywalled content and experiences, delighting fans with immersive content, digital collectibles and contextual merchandising.

Seth Jackson, Landmrk CEO commentated:

“Hard times cause for swift innovation. The Digital Innovation Fund allowed us to move at pace towards building out and launching new features on the Landmrk platform that are particularly relevant to an industry that has suffered greatly during the pandemic.

The support and funding enabled us to create Landmrk Virtual Tours – a revenue generating platform for music artists and entertainers, that gives them the tools to deliver immersive content to their fans, and generate unique pieces of digital merchandise that can be turned into t-shirts and posters that are delivered anywhere in the world in a matter of days.”

Landmrk are currently supporting the Icelandic Eurovision contender Daði Freyr with his virtual world tour. The music artist’s Virtual Tour will delight fans around the globe with 2D holographic performances, dynamic merchandise and unique digital collectibles

Fans around the globe are invited to be part of the Daði Freyr World Tour by visiting road2rotterdam.com on their mobile phone.

The Virtual Tour begins on April 1st in Daði’s hometown of Reykjavik, before setting off on a transcontinental journey that visits fifty destinations in sixty days. The digital nature of the tour has allowed it to be expanded beyond the original UK and European dates into Asia, Africa, Australia, North and South America. The Daði tour bus will roll into town and entertain audiences in places such as Cambodia, Jakarta and Lago.

The virtual tour bus will be in Bristol on Monday 19 April.

The Digital Innovation Fund is open to support SMEs in the West of England until December 2022. To be the first to hear about the next round of support available, please register your interest at: www.digitalinnovationfund.co.uk.


The Digital Innovation Fund (DIF) is funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). DIF receives up to £1.9m of funding from ERDF, 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 ERDF. Established by the European Union, the ERDF helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, job creation and local community regeneration.

Scale Up 4 Growth launches funding programme in Gloucestershire with £1m of grants available to help the region’s SMEs scale and grow

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Scale Up 4 Growth (S4G), a funding and support programme that brings together experts from UWE Bristol, NatWest and Gloucestershire College, will deliver grant funding and support to businesses in Gloucestershire. 

The programme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund, is open to businesses in any sector with ambitious growth plans. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in the Gloucestershire LEP Region: Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Forest of Dean, Stroud and Cotswolds.

Grants of £10,000 to £40,000 are available to help address the challenges that Gloucestershire businesses face when growing and scaling up their operations. The grants will cover 35% of business’ costs.

Dedicated support from a team of experts at UWE Bristol will be given to help businesses develop project ideas and submit grant applications.

Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Enterprise at UWE Bristol, said: “UWE Bristol is proud to be supporting SMES in Gloucestershire. This programme aims to stimulate the regional economy at such an important time by helping companies to realise their potential. The S4G programme in the West of England has supported over 80 companies, giving out £850,000 in grants and creating 150 jobs. Gloucestershire is full of innovation and we are thrilled to be able to bring this scheme to the region.”

Andy Bates, Vice Principal and Chief Financial Officer at Gloucestershire College said: “Our job at Gloucestershire College is to help local businesses to grow. For years, Gloucestershire College has been enabling this growth as the go-to training provider for employers in the county to develop their staff, hire new talent and strengthen their organisation with quality training.

We are thrilled to be partnering with UWE Bristol and NatWest to now bring £1m worth of capital into Gloucestershire, acting as a catalyst for growth, innovation and progression. The S4G scheme has already been a great success in the West of England and now we are bringing it to the SMEs of Gloucestershire.

There is no doubt that the last year has been challenging for businesses but we are committed to helping Gloucestershire come back stronger. This is the time to innovate and I urge employers to use the S4G scheme to level up for their future.”

Mike West, Director, Commercial Banking NatWest, Gloucestershire, said: “Building on the success of S4Gprogramme in the West of England, we are delighted to be working in partnership with UWE Bristol and Gloucestershire College to support ambitious businesses across our Gloucestershire region access this growth funding and leading business support.”

S4G launches on Monday 1 March 2021. Applications for funding will close on Wednesday 5 May 2021. For more information and to register your interest please visit www.scaleup4growth.co.uk.


Notes to editors

European Regional Development Fund:

The project will receive up to £1.4m 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 https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

Gloucestershire LEP Region: Tewkesbury, Cheltenham, Gloucester, Forest of Dean Stroud and Cotswolds.

Introducing the Digital Innovation Fund: UWE Bristol’s £1m Covid-19 Recovery Fund

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In response to Covid-19, UWE Bristol is launching a Digital Innovation Fund to help businesses to innovate during these turbulent times. 

UWE’s Digital Innovation Fund provides business support and £1m in grants for small and medium sized business in the West of England. 

The scheme, funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), offers eligible businesses innovation grants from £10,000 to £40,000 to fund 35% of project costs.

Grants are open to businesses in any sector that want to innovate and address new challenges that have arisen from Covid-19. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises (SMEs) and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.

Deadlines for application: 8 July.

Apply now

Pro Vice Chancellor for Research and Enterprise Professor Martin Boddy commented: “UWE Bristol is delighted to open its Digital Innovation Fund, £1m  of grant funding to support businesses in the West of England to address  new challenges caused by Covid-19.

Any SME in the area that is undertaking a digital innovation or research and development project should consider applying. We are offering a sliding scale of grants, from £10k to £40k, so hopefully there is a funding option for a range of businesses – from start-ups and micro enterprises, to more established organisations. The application process is straightforward and UWE Bristol staff are available to provide hands-on support through a series of confidential 1:1 drop-in sessions.

Digital Innovation Fund follows on from previous successful grant funding schemes run by the University, which has given £2m of grants to thriving businesses in the West of England, creating over 150 new jobs and over 100 new products and services. We are looking forward to this new fund delivering similar benefits to the local economy, and helping individual SMEs to innovate and grow.

In a time of unprecedented change, UWE Bristol is proud of the role it can play to support the region’s SMEs in responding to the pandemic and financial crisis.

Now is the time to innovate.

The Digital Innovation Fund is funded by the European Regional Development Fund.


Notes to editors:

European Regional Development Fund:

The project (has received) £4,230,000 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 https://www.gov.uk/european-growth-funding.

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

Scale Up For Growth (S4G): Scale up support for your business

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Scale Up For Growth (S4G) is a new programme offering grant funding and workshops to businesses in the West of England with ambitions to grow, expand and scale. £800,000 of funding is available with grants from £10,000 to £40,000 for businesses in the West of England that are looking to expand and scale. They can be used to fund 37.5% of growth projects or initiatives for businesses.

Deadline for grant applications: Midday, Thursday 7 March 2019

The grant scheme is open to businesses in any sector that want to grow and scale up their business. Applicants must be small or medium sized enterprises and based in Bristol, Bath & North East Somerset, North Somerset or South Gloucestershire.   

Businesses can also register to attend Business Growth Workshops – further information can be found on our website.   

The S4G programme is delivered by UWE Bristol, NatWest and Foot Anstey. S4G offers eligible businesses access to grants, training and expert support to help achieve their full potential, create jobs and overcome barriers to growth.

Register today www.scaleup4growth.co.uk

How I4G helped an education company open up the world of particles

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The Innovation4Growth (I4G) funding offers grants to businesses in the West of England wishing to develop an innovative project. The current I4G round of funding is offering £1 million for SMEs in the region.

Interactive Scientific is a previous recipient of I4G funding. The education company’s CEO Becky Sage explains how the grant helped it develop the Nano Simbox digital platform.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=leyMMS0d4C4]

For more info: http://www.innovation4growth.co.uk/. The deadline for applications is 12th July 2017.  

A three-way partnership to develop artificial intelligence

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A Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) between the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol), a graduate, and a financial services firm in Bristol has developed a smart system that will help customers decide how to invest their money. KTP is a UK government programme that supports companies in implementing innovative solutions to grow their business.   

Rowan Dartington (RD) is building a cyborg. Or at least this is the way the financial services firm describes a user interface it hopes will revolutionise how clients invest their money and enable it to attract more millennials to set up portfolios.

RD is one of the UK’s leading providers of personalised wealth management services. With expertise in providing advice to investors, it is also putting a lot of work into developing the algorithms behind its online service. To ensure its new interface towered above competitors, Phil McHenry, RD’s Head of Software Development, wanted to complement its developers’ skills with specific academic knowledge in data science and user experience (UX). It therefore turned to UWE Bristol.

Together, RD and UWE Bristol began collaborating on a KTP, a programme spearheaded by Innovate UK that helps companies improve their productivity and competitiveness via a partnership with an academic institution and the recruitment of a recent graduate with specific expertise. Academic expertise was provided by Dr Paul Matthews, a senior lecturer in the Department for Computer Science and Creative Industries, and Bala Goudar was recruited for the two-year project.

Goudar, who has a PhD in Climate Physics (RD colleagues came to refer him as ‘weatherman’), had a particular skill in analysing data and a keen interest in financial markets. RD introduced him to fund management, helping him adapt to the company’s way of working. “KTP helps move people from the academic to the business environment,” says RD Chief Operating Officer Ben Cooper, “but the pressures in both worlds are different.”

To cater for clients with smaller amounts to invest, many fund managers’ online systems offer ‘robo-advice,’ algorithm-generated information about how to invest. RD’s new platform, once fully developed, will also offer such a service, but it wanted to take this one step further – by making the interface ‘intelligent.’ The KTP provided the innovation and knowledge a to achieve this.

During the KTP, which began in 2015, Goudar grew his skills in data analysis in a business context. In his second year, he began designing the algorithms, which RD’s software development team implemented. By having a data expert apply his knowledge to their business, RD began to look at data in a new way. “Data is an asset that is becoming increasingly important and Bala helped us realise that you can bring together seemingly unrelated data but still find a correlation,” says Cooper.

The KTP experience at RD also gave Goudar insight into the financial services industry. “I have had to learn the way a wealth management company firm such as RD operates before building anything,” he says. “These are all skills we don’t necessarily use in academia.”

Overseeing the project from an academic perspective, Paul Matthews brought to the table, among other skills, his knowledge of UX, ensuring that the system is highly intuitive for users. He also set up focus groups between UWE Bristol academics and RD directors around machine learning. “The KTP has also given UWE Bristol a foot in the Fintech [financial technology] world, which is becoming bigger and bigger, and where there is a lot of scope for us to be further involved from an academic perspective,” says Matthews.

With the new interface, still in development, if someone new to investing approaches RD to enquire about investment, they will first carry out a search through the online system. In the next step, the enquirer meets with an adviser to set up their portfolio. The data generated from this interaction then loops back into the platform to help feed the information provided to future investors. Through machine learning combined with human feedback, the ‘cyborg’ therefore teaches itself to yield even better advice next time.

This Partnership received financial support from the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships programme (KTP).  KTP aims to help businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through the better use of knowledge, technology and skills that reside within the UK Knowledge Base.  KTP is funded by Innovate UK along with the other government funding organisations.

How funding through UWE Bristol helped a panel manufacturer turn ideas into reality

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Thanks to an Innovation 4 Growth (I4G) government grant made available by way of UWE Bristol, Gilcrest Manufacturing was able to develop an extremely strong ceiling panel for use on cold storage rooms and other enclosed areas such as hygienic environments. In this video, the company’s Engineering Manager Stephen Griffiths explains how the funding, as well as support from UWE Bristol, was critical in bringing the project to fruition.

[youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOy91UB0h44&w=560&h=315]

The post-Brexit silver lining: how working with SMEs could provide a springboard to export

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Originally posted in Business Leader Magazine

Far from Brexit creating a sense of doom and gloom for SMEs wanting to export, leaving the EU could provide opportunities to sell to emerging markets. That, at least is the view of two economists who are setting up a project to bridge the gap between SMEs and Local Enterprise Partnerships (LEPs), which provide a link between local authorities and businesses.

Catherine Cai, who is senior lecturer in Strategy and International Management at the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) said: “We are trying to see the silver lining of Brexit and there a lot of opportunities for SMEs to export to non-EU countries, but they need support.

“The LEPs provide a network for SMEs to meet and learn from each other and this is very important, because most of these firms don’t have experience of exporting to countries like China or India.”

Export_pic

Along with colleague Dr Rekha Nicholson from Newcastle University London, which is leading the project, Cai is in the planning stages of an activity involving work with two LEPs.

Cai says SMEs in the UK often think locally and either tend not to think about exporting or, if they do, invariably consider European countries. Exporting to emerging markets like the BRICS countries (Brazil, Russia, India, China and South Africa) is still quite a new idea.

By developing working practices with the LEPs and providing workshops in the South West, the economists plan to help businesses think about how to penetrate and position themselves in these new markets. Their knowledge will also help companies understand the logistics of exporting and how to protect their intellectual property rights.

The project is set to begin at the end of 2017 and, initially lasting one year, will focus on two industries: creative and manufacturing.

Enabling people with disabilities: using innovation to provide cycling mobility

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In 2013 Bob Griffin was ushered through the gates of Buckingham Palace to meet the Queen. The entrepreneur who set up Tomcat, a company in the south west, was there to collect his Queen’s award for Enterprise in Innovation. The company manufactures trikes for children and adults with mild to severe disabilities, whether learning, visual or physical.

Based near Gloucester, Tomcat is known for its bespoke trikes, the unique design of which means carers accompanying the rider can control the vehicle from behind using a steering and braking lever.

Just a year after shaking hands with the monarch, Bob was looking to design a new wheelchair product called ‘Sunfly’ and was successful in receiving a grant through the University of the West of England’s (UWE Bristol) Innovation 4 Growth (I4G) scheme, which supports SMEs in the South West to develop innovative products.

Inspired by families whose children sometimes became severely disabled because of illnesses like meningitis, Sunfly has multiple purposes. Due to launch in 2017, users can modulate it to allow a child to nap, eat, and sit in different positions. Its clever design means the structure can house various types of specialised seats and can be broken down into separate, easily transportable parts. Sunfly also doubles as a trailer to carry a child behind a bicycle.

The R&D took over a year, as there was an intense focus on safety. “Turning Sunfly into reality was a real challenge, but without UWE Bristol’s I4G funding, it would have been even more difficult and perhaps unachievable,” says Bob.

The story of Tomcat goes back 20 years. Bob’s stepson, Tom, had severe learning difficulties and was keeping the adults awake at night because of surplus energy he was unable to expend during the day. Although Tom had a trike, it was hard to control and so it gathered dust in the shed.

Bob, at the time a Merchant Navy engineer, realised tricycles were very basic. “In terms of blindness, learning difficulties or spatial awareness, there was nothing out there,” says Bob. While on a posting, he used the ship’s workshop to build a system to add onto Tom’s existing trike. Tom and his mother, Anne, were delighted.

Usually Tom would walk for 100 yards and get bored but, thanks to the trike, Anne could control it from behind and he was able to ride up to three miles. “To see him achieve that was quite emotional,” recalls Bob. After a subsequent visit to the school Tom attended, other parents asked Bob to build trikes for their own children.

Two decades later Tomcat products (the firm’s name is derived from his stepson’s name) are as popular as ever. Bob is now developing new products thanks in part to a second round of funding from UWE Bristol’s I4G. The grant is helping with the development of both an adult trike and a semi-recumbent tricycle. The products will target those with mild sight, balance and age-related difficulties, as well as people with profound and multiple disabilities.  A major feature of the new machines will be the way they enable users to get on and off more easily.

The semi-recumbent trike, due for release in February 2017, will be more upright, with higher seating and a straighter back than competitors’ products. Another objective will be to incorporate a swivel, or height-adjustable saddle, on the pedal vehicles.

Of course developing these products has once again presented Bob with a number of challenges, like how to achieve greater transportability with such a large machine. Again, support through UWE Bristol’s I4G programme will help him overcome those issues.

tomcat-queen
Bob Griffin, Tomcat, meeting the Queen in 2013

To find out more about Tomcat please visit their website: http://tomcatspecialneeds.co.uk/