Blog post

Annual Review 2017/18: Business Engagement

Derby has attracted £4 billion of investment over the past 10 years, and the city has the second fastest-growing economy in the UK. As a university, we recognise the part we play in providing businesses with the skilled workers, academic expertise and technological resources they need to thrive, as well as the valuable economic contribution we make to the UK.

By The Corporate Communications Team - 14 October 2018

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Investment in research and working with others to share our expertise and facilities are crucial for our growth and evolution. We have continued to expand our collaborative research and knowledge exchange activities across a range of businesses, from international PLCs to local owner-managed small businesses - all of which benefit our research and teaching, and the wider region. Our £2.5 million portfolio of Knowledge Transfer Partnership projects, funded by Innovate UK, demonstrates our ability to apply our research expertise to industry challenges. During 2017/2018, we made significant investments in research, alongside high-profile research funders including Research England, the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Arts and Humanities Research Council and Innovate UK.

Funding for research and development

Using economic development funding, such as the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), we have been able to provide research, development and innovation support to 384 small and medium-sized enterprises (between April 2016 and June 2018) across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Importantly, ERDF has also enabled us to increase our support to businesses through our Invest to Grow fund, and provide financial support to develop internship and placement opportunities for our students and graduates. In terms of University of Derby investment, we have committed to invest £2.4 million from April 2016 to October 2019, alongside ERDF.

EPSRC funding

In July, the University received almost £430,000 funding as part of a wider £1.7 million Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) project, to be delivered in collaboration with the University of Sheffield, Bristol and Imperial College. The Derby element of the project is led by Professor Angelo Maligno, Research Chair in Composite Materials at our Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering. The aim is to produce a real-world model for designing engineering materials and systems which are able to withstand demanding dynamic loads, in particular for the aerospace and railway industries.

Invest to Grow

Our Invest to Grow programme, now in its fourth year, continues to be a big success story, with more than 175 companies awarded funding across a wide range of sectors. The direct impact of this support to date has resulted in private sector investment of £72 million and over 1,000 full-time, permanent jobs created across the East Midlands. As well as providing financial support, the programme has opened doors to wider collaboration opportunities and successfully facilitated links between businesses and the wider University of Derby network.

SureScreen Scientifics

Derby-based SureScreen Scientifics received £68,430 from the Invest to Grow scheme to create a new bespoke DNA research facility and laboratory, focusing on environmental and ecological screening. One research project carries out DNA analyses of water samples taken from proposed building sites, to identify the presence of protected species like the Great Crested Newt. The new facility created more business opportunities and led to the recruitment of eight new staff. Two PhD students from the University of Derby also joined the team for added resource.

EPS UK Limited

EPS UK Limited, based in Nottingham, specialises in designing innovative medium voltage switchgear solutions. After receiving £496,000 from Invest to Grow, the company developed new infrastructure and bought a larger site, allowing it to double its turnover and recruit 15 new members of staff. Following discussions with the government and Network Rail, EPS was invited to bid for a contract that would allow it to supply substations as part of the electrification for the UK railway network. The firm was awarded the contract as part of a joint venture with two other companies. To find out how we could work with you to help your business grow, contact the University of Derby Business team on 0800 0015500 or email:

For further information contact the Corporate Communications team at or call 01332 593953.

About the author

The Corporate Communications Team
University Press and PR

The Corporate Communications Team manage the University's Press and PR, putting forward academics, support staff and student representatives for 'expert comment' on different topics to local and national broadcast media. The team is highly experienced in communications and journalism - locally, regionally and nationally - as well as in-house and agency public relations.