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Business Support and Innovation Funding via Universities: What’s on Offer?

22 Jul 19

The range of business support and innovation funding via Universities is quite extensive with some exciting programs on offer. Yet Universities struggle to engage with the businesses that should be benefiting. 

There is a lot to be gained by Universities, University students and businesses, from forging links and working together, so we take a look at some of the University led business support programs, to give you an overview of what’s on offer - could one of them be just what you're seeking?


Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships are probably one of the better known schemes as they have been running for decades in the UK. Most Universities run a KTP - they are designed to help businesses be more profitable and innovative, by giving businesses access to draw on the knowledge within UK Universities. 

"A Knowledge Transfer Partnership is a three way collaboration designed to bring about strategic change through introducing new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project.

The partners are:

  • a UK-based business of any size or a not-for-profit organisation,
  • an academic or research organisation such as UEL. 
  • a suitably-qualified graduate, with the capability to lead a strategic business project.

The scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business. It is part funded by means of a government grant which can amount to 67% of the costs of the projects for SMEs.”  Quote from:

Impacting Business By Design

“Impacting Business By Design will provide design, technical, and development support, incentivise investment and nurture design innovation skills, culture and systems in SMEs and entrepreneurs. It aims to increase the number of new products being brought to market in the UK, increasing investment and protecting the country’s industrial competitiveness.”  Quote by De Montfort University: dmu/news/2018/april/

I met with Ian Ferris from Brunel Design (Brunel University) earlier this year to find out more about the Impacting Business by Design program. Brunel is one of several Universities that have joined forces to deliver Impacting Business by Design. It’s a relatively new support program that aims to derisk the development process for start-ups, scale-ups and the Small and Medium Enterprise (SME) business sector in general. 

Ian explained that participating Universities aim to provide support to businesses both by:

  • Giving access to professional design expertise to help with aspects of the design process, such as brief development, research to identify user-needs in regard to design requirements, generation and testing of product concepts, product design engineering and design for manufacture plus prototyping.
  • Providing funding support for up to 60% of the design costs as a ‘deferred advance’ only repayable when/if the new product has generated significant revenues. The other 40% of funding must come from the participating business, it can be in kind e.g. staff time.

Impacting Business By Design program is England wide. 

Support for London based businesses

Brunel University participates in two European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded programs to support London SMEs


Co-Innovate is currently planned to run to 2020 but may well be renewed. It aims to support new product or service innovation by connecting businesses that are involved in innovation to the extensive expertise, specialist innovation knowledge and resources within participating Universities. It’s seed support that can lead onto larger grant applications such as Innovate UK SMART grants. Gurnam Selvarajah, Innovation Director for Co-Innovate Journeys said the aim of the project is to support businesses with the following services:

  • Business workshops and events – supporting businesses with Finance, Marketing, IP, Circular Economy, Exporting, Branding, etc.
  • Supporting businesses to launch new products to market.
  • Supporting collaborative projects with Brunel University where businesses work on industry led collaborative projects with students and have access to innovation support from specialist academics.
  • Innovation vouchers up to £5K of innovation funding for collaborative projects with Brunel University and Businesses.
  • Support and capture increase in employment.

Bridging the Gap

“Bridging the Gap is a business innovation programme providing London-based emerging start-ups and SME's with a support ecosystem”.

It's open to a business locating to a London borough for the first time to start trading as well as London based businesses. The aim is to make the University’s expertise and networks available to provide ‘front-end’ support to guide entrepreneurs, so they are able to bring forward innovative ventures much more rapidly. It includes Skills Training, Mentoring, Pitching and communication opportunities, including to explore some of London’s most successful accelerator programmes such as Wayra, Techstars and the Central Research Laboratory, plus collaborative projects with a final-year undergraduate or post-graduate student on a project brief focused on an the SME's own innovation challenge’s own innovation challenge.  


Brunel is also participating in StoryFutures, a very interesting program that aims to help  drive uptake the of immersive technologies. “Backed by the Arts and Humanities Research Council’s (AHRC) Creative Industries Clusters Programme, the £13m StoryFutures project will focus on driving the uptake of emergent technologies such as virtual reality, augmented reality and AI by creating the compelling new types of content, and determining best practice”. ( It aims to support the Government’s Industrial Strategy.

If you’d like an introduction to the right person to talk to in Brunel University please get in touch using our contact form or book a telephone call into my diary.

Are you ready to find out if you qualify or how much your R&D claims could be worth?


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For more information or to contact us - call us on 0771 9439 229 - or send us a message


For more information on claiming R&D tax credits or our business advice and support services call us on 0771 9439 229

Or send us a message

PO Box 53448,
SE18 9DE


Our consultants are members of London Group Business Advisors and Home Counties Business Advisors.

Linda Eziquiel is a Fellow of the Institute for Independent Business and a Principal Consultant at RandDTax (specialists in Research and Development tax credits) – UK co. reg. no. 08160439.

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