A new innovation scheme to support business growth is being launched. Worth almost £4million, the project will deliver expert advice and grants working across much of the east of England.
The project – Innovation Bridge – offers small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a free business review with innovation experts and access to specialist academic advice and expertise to develop an action plan for the development of new products or services that will support future business growth.
After a successful pilot scheme in 2014, Innovation Bridge returns with the support of three of the region’s universities, including the University of Suffolk, University of Bedfordshire and Anglia Ruskin University. It is partly financed by £1.95million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).
The project, led by Central Bedfordshire Council, will also work with partners including the New Anglia Growth Hub.
Over the three-year lifespan of the project, the aims of Innovation Bridge are:
• To give at least 12 hours of support to 350 businesses
• 116 businesses will receive a grant of £1,000-15,000 to support innovation
• 62 new enterprises will be started
• 87 new jobs created
• 45 new to market products will be introduced
• 94 new to firm products will be designed.
Stef Thorne, Head of Research and Enterprise Services at the University of Suffolk, said “Support for innovation by the University is going from strength to strength. With the launch of the Ipswich Waterfront Innovation Centre (IWIC) last month and now this fantastic project offering, SMEs more funded support, we are well placed to see more and more impact on local growth.”
Chris Starkie, Managing Director of New Anglia LEP, said: “We are pleased to be supporting the Innovation Bridge to bring support and advice to businesses which are seeking to drive innovation.”
Businesses or individuals interested in participating in the scheme will have an initial assessment carried out either face to face or over the telephone, and a range of support will then be on offer from the Universities to help the client develop an innovation action plan.
For more information on the scheme, visit www.centralbedfordshire.gov.uk/innovationbridge