Funding boost for engineering and digital hubs

6 Apr 2018

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 the next three years.

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

Invest in Bath among project partners

The university will work with a number of key external partners including Invest in Bath (Bath & North East Somerset Council), who will be providing officer time to support both new business acceleration hubs.

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 ecosystem, where local SMEs will establish deep long-term relationships with the University that are mutually beneficial.

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 £60 million 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.

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.”