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Perfect partnership to boost regional innovation

Date published: 19/12/17

LEP and ERDF logos

Perfect partnership to boost regional innovation

Translate has teamed up with a new regional innovation funding programme in what both organisations describe as a ‘win-win’ partnership.

The Access Innovation Programme, launched in July by the Leeds City Region Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP), provides funding to small and medium businesses looking to partner with research organisations to develop a new product or process. With healthcare and life sciences one of the target sectors for the programme, teaming up with Translate seemed an obvious choice.

LEP Service Manager for Business Support, Patrick Robertson, said: “Our team are out on the ground working with industry across all sectors and have a wide institutional knowledge of where the relevant expertise exists. However they’ve really valued the in depth knowledge of the medical technologies sector and links with key academics that Translate provides. It is a complex sector, with lots of players and a demanding regulatory environment, so having Translate alongside to help us navigate that is invaluable.”

Substantial support

Access Innovation provides a package of support to businesses in the Leeds City Region, including funding up to 50 percent of the cost of accessing specialist expertise, equipment or facilities from research organisations. With grants of up to £50,000 on offer, through the European Regional Development Fund, this fills a really useful gap in the support available for these types of projects, as Translate Technology Innovation Manager Dr Danielle Miles explains:

“Translate funds secondments which can kick start a collaboration, but the funding now available from Access Innovation is more substantial, and can support innovation projects of up to twelve months. Businesses could by then be in a position to apply for longer term support, such as a Knowledge Transfer Partnerships through Innovate UK – giving them the opportunity to really drive an idea forward from initial contact through to tangible outcomes.”

The partnership began with a joint Med Tech Innovation Challenge, teaming up local SMEs interested in medical technologies with academics working in the sector. The 26 delegates heard about the wider support available through the LEP and Translate as well as new funding opportunities and did some speed networking to identify potential collaborations.

Sector expertise

Dr Miles has also accompanied LEP Innovation Growth Manager, Jane McGeeney, on a visit to a local company, to discuss some of the challenges they face and identify possible research that might help them. With her sector expertise, Dr Miles was able to ask informed questions, to get to the heart of the company’s needs and find a good fit with potential academic partners.

This is the kind of expertise that is already proving really useful to the LEP, according to Patrick Robertson.

“We would tend to look at institutional expertise to identify potential collaborations, but Translate have direct contact with the key academics working in this field and can go straight to them,” he said. “This is a much faster route to set up initial discussions and with potential funding on the table, the propositions from Translate become more interesting to the academics as well.”

While the partnership is still new, both organisations have high hopes for it.

Dr Miles said: “Access Innovation is such a good fit with Translate, I’m sure we’ll see some really interesting med tech projects taken forward under the programme.”

For more information on Access Innovation, contact the LEP business growth team on 0113 3481818 or email BusinessGrowth@the-lep.com.

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