University of Bath to provide boost to regional SMEs

The University of Bath is to establish two new “business acceleration hubs” for advanced engineering and digital innovation SMEs in the region.

Bath has been awarded £1.5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to deliver start-up, scale-up, open innovation and investment support to grow 100 digitally innovative businesses and 130 advanced engineering businesses over three years.

IAAPS will play a central role in building the advanced engineering SME hub

Support will be provided in a number of ways including grants of up to £10,000, knowledge exchange, mentoring, research and innovation expertise and resource, business-university research partnerships, as well as bringing SMEs together with large corporate businesses though existing investor networks.

The University will work with a number of key external partners including the West of England Combined Authority.

Director of Research & Innovation Services and Senior Project Lead, Dr Jon Hunt, said: “This is another example of how the University of Bath undertakes business engagement and enterprise activities to support the University’s research base. The long-term impact of the project will be a much improved innovation eco-system, where local SMEs will establish deep long-term relationships with the University that are mutually beneficial.

“My thanks go to Adam Hickman, who led the project team so successfully to secure this grant.”

Dean of Faculty of Engineering & Design and programme lead for the advanced engineering hub, Professor Gary Hawley, commented: “The advanced engineering hub will ‘pump prime’ SMEs to engage with the University’s new £60m automotive research facility – the Institute for Advanced Automotive Propulsion Systems (IAAPS) – scheduled to open in 2020.”

IAAPS will play a central role in building this SME network by providing access to world leading expertise to build their capacity and learning, as well as its state-of-the art facilities.

The digital innovation hub will work with SMEs to benefit the health, well-being and creative media sectors

The digital innovation hub will work with SMEs to benefit the health, well-being and creative media sectors.

Professor in Human and Applied Physiology in the University’s Department for Health and programme lead for the digital innovation hub, James Bilzon, commented: “This project will enable the University to offer its expertise and facilities to work with businesses to undertake research, development and innovation leading to the adoption and commercialisation of new products, services and technologies that will drive this sector’s growth and productivity, particularly in the health and healthcare sectors.”

Adam Hickman, Acting Head of Enterprise, who successfully secured the funding, said “This is the true definition of a partnership project and shows how the University can play an important role in delivering the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

"This is the third ERDF grant we have secured, allowing us to make a lasting difference to economic growth and academic-business partnerships in the region.”

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