Saturday, 16 June 2007

University of Leeds Funding for Innovation Seminar

A morning seminar held on 15/6/2007 aimed at making SMEs aware of the funding they may be able to access through the university.

Paul Ellwood, Innovation Hub Manager spoke of the importance of “open innovation”, explaining that not all the best ideas can come from within a company and external partnerships can provide an opportunity to share expertise. He also pointed out that very often an organisation can come up with good ideas which don’t fit in with that company’s business. Licensing to someone who is in that line of business can be a useful option.

He outlined the services which the university can offer to business – including consultancy, research, product development, design support, prototyping and conference facilities.

Claire Horton of Beta Technology looked at European funding through the Framework Programme. This programme offers the opportunity to involve partners in other countries, though the requirements which enable companies to gain funding are complex.

Philippa Ryan explained “Knowledge Transfer Partnerships” – a scheme by which a university graduate is placed within a company to develop a specific project which the company themselves perhaps doesn’t have time for. The aim is to make it attractive to both company and graduate – the former developing their business and improving profits; the latter broadening their expertise, carrying out practical and relevant research, publishing papers and in some cases gaining a job with the company.

Nigel Brown, Health Technologies Manager at the university gave an overview of the Centre for Health Enterprise, established in 2005 to help knowledge transfer between the Faculty of Medicine & Health in the university and SMEs. Once gain, building partnerships and graduate placements are central to this. Among other things they deliver seminars and have been holding public workshops on health issues on Saturday mornings.

He spoke of the Proof of Concept Fund – funding aimed at West Yorks companies in Objective 2 areas. So far it has been predominantly in the medical field but they are also looking at other sectors and multi-sector projects.