Uni’s £2.3m eco funding to boost business efficiency

Annette Suddes, Eco-Innovation Project Manager, University of Cumbria.
Annette Suddes, Eco-Innovation Project Manager, University of Cumbria.
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The University of Cumbria has successfully bid for £2.3million to help small and medium sized businesses in the region benefit from expertise which could help make them more efficient.

The money, from the European Regional Development Fund, is aimed at sparking eco-innovation – research which might result in collaborations between the university and commerce.

“We’re really excited to be able to announce that we’ve secured funding which now means we can help develop technology in companies across Cumbria and Lancashire,” Annette Suddes, Eco-Innovation Project Manager said.

“We know that small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) have to work hard to maintain their competitive advantage in the development of new, low-carbon products and processes.

“What we’re able to offer is tangible help – either with academics or students from the university – to help an idea become a reality.”

Work’s already under way to forge the kind of links which could bring benefits to businesses in the near future.

A launch event for the project, named Eco-Innovation Cumbria, will be held at the University of Cumbria’s Ambleside campus on April 4 between 9.30am and 3pm. It’s free to attend and registration is now open at https://www.cumbria.ac.uk/business/eco-innovation-cumbria/

“We know SMEs – big and small – have ideas which could take off if they had some support to make it happen,” Annette said. ”This could be in the form of a short term placement where a student works exclusively on a project or a longer term scheme delivered by the University of Cumbria or one of our partner universities.”

Eligible innovative SME businesses will have access to a programme of events which will include more detailed forums, lectures and residential workshops.

Funds are also available for placement of researchers into businesses where there are ideas for innovation which will lower greenhouse gases.

The event includes an exciting taster ‘Open Innovation Forum’ run by Kieran Brocklebank, Head of Innovation at United Utilities, who will set an interactive challenge suitable for any SME.

This will look at how businesses can innovate to resolve business challenges in the water company’s supply chain, as a hands-on demonstration of the innovation process.

Keiran said: “At United Utilities, we are committed to keeping our bills low for our customers. Part of this means funding lower cost, innovative solutions which do not damage the environment.

“We’re sure there are some great new business ideas here in the North West and we’re keen to support that home grown talent and the region’s economic growth. Eco-Innovation Cumbria is the perfect fit for this, and we are delighted to be part of the launch and ongoing programme.”

The scheme runs until 2020, and is being managed by the University of Cumbria.

Lancaster University and the University of Central Lancashire are also partners.