Lancaster University providing £11.4m in support to regional businesses
North West businesses and the regional economy are set to benefit from more than £11.4m of support through three new programmes launched by Lancaster University.
The programmes combined will drive innovation and help create new products and services working with more than 870 small- and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
Support will focus on the key industrial and technology areas of next generation chemistry, smart materials and cyber security.
Part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the programmes will deliver 180 new research collaborations between businesses and Lancaster University researchers.
These partnerships include new opportunities for nine new PhD researchers – providing the scientists and innovators of the future.
The new programmes are:
Greater Innovation for Smarter Material Optimisation (GISMO)
This £4.4m programme will engage with 250 SMEs in the Cheshire and Warrington areas. Successful businesses will gain access to research and development expertise and specialist technology to solve industry-driven challenges through innovations in ‘smart’ materials.
Next Gen Chem
Co-designed between Lancaster University and Yordas Group, the £4.9m Next Gen Chem programme will work with 300 SMEs to enable chemical-using industries across Lancashire to innovate using ‘next generation’ chemistry. The programme will lead to the creation of new and improved products and processes with support delivered through a blend of targeted workshop activities focused around innovative synthesis, formulation and chemical process development, and bespoke technical and analytical research and development support.
The funding from this programme will also expand the capacity of Lancaster University to engage with businesses on research and development through its cTAP facility by supporting the acquisition of new analytical equipment such as a catalyst assessment rig, a robotics automation platform, a kilo lab, and equipment suites.
Lancashire Cyber Foundry
Building on the success of the ‘Greater Manchester Cyber Foundry’ (also part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund) the £2.1m Lancashire Cyber Foundry offers the opportunity for SMEs to both increase their awareness of cyber security technologies and explore the development of new digital products and services using technology to innovate, providing the foundation for business stimulation and growth.
The programme will engage with 320 SMEs and be delivered through a blend of face-to-face workshops, online modules, and software development, putting cyber security at the forefront.
Dr Steve Fish, director of partnerships and business engagement at Lancaster University’s Faculty of Science and Technology, said: “GISMO, Next Gen Chem and the Lancashire Cyber Foundry are three new initiatives that build on Lancaster University’s academic capability and will connect the institution to commercial partners across the region over the next three years.
“These projects target three growth areas: Chemistry; cyber security; and material science, where our aim is to provide innovative solutions that will increase productivity and growth.
“These initiatives will act as catalysts encouraging companies to cluster and to not only work with us, but with each other.
“This combined approach will accelerate innovation in chemistry, cyber security and advanced materials and will lead to a variety of opportunities linking with other complementary activities across the region.”
Lancaster University says it has a long and demonstrably successful track record in increasing the innovation capacity and competitiveness of SMEs within North West England and in 2014-15 was identified as the leading UK university for economic development regeneration, as demonstrated through the results of the annual national Higher Education Business & Community Interaction Survey.
Since 1998, Lancaster University has delivered more than 50 European Structural Investment Fund projects and programmes aimed at SMEs.
These programmes have a combined value of more than £220m. Over this period, Lancaster University has worked with more than 10,000 SMEs and has created and safeguarded almost 10,000 jobs.
A 2019 independent evaluation across Lancaster University’s regional SME innovation support programmes projected economic impact return of £18-28 for each £1 of public investment and 2.6 new jobs created for each business supported.