Innovation Centre Chesterfield

Bringing our University closer to the city and towns in which we operate, by engaging with local businesses

The Innovation Centre at our Chesterfield Campus allows small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to incubate new business ideas, increase their speed of growth and de-risk the process of developing new products. It creates a stimulating environment for innovation, learning, problem solving and creativity for local industry in Chesterfield.

The University’s tailored business support offer matches SMEs with opportunities to access space, expertise, advice and guidance, funding, knowledge transfer, facilities and talent to facilitate accelerated growth.

With a focus on employability, the University of Derby is keen to support growing businesses in and around Chesterfield.

Our hi-spec incubation units are the perfect premises for growing businesses. They are a well-resourced and appointed commercial home, where young businesses can feel at ease and proud to introduce their product to market. New businesses can pay stepped rental charges and get a range of business support services to set them on their way.

  • 11 – 27 square metres
  • 24hr access
  • Meeting space and boardroom facilities
  • Shared kitchen

The units are now available to businesses. For more information or to register your interest, email or call 0800 001 5500.

The Business Development team can provide access to funding to support business growth:

Invest to Grow

The Invest to Grow programme is designed to support private sector businesses to innovate, grow and create jobs. In the East Midlands, £16m of Regional Growth Fund is available to local businesses.

  • Invest to Grow is aimed primarily at growth sectors such as Transport Equipment Manufacturing, Lifesciences, Construction, Food & Drink Manufacturing, Logistics, Low Carbon, Creative Industries and the Visitor Economy
  • Grants or loans - according to the needs of your business, and the availability of funds  - are available for up to a maximum of 30% of the cost of investment to help create long term sustainable job growth. Your business has to find at least 70% of the project cost
  • Minimum award size is £15k, so the minimum project cost is likely to be £50k. Maximum award size is £1m.

Funding advice

Our knowledgeable team of experienced business advisers understand the complexity of the funding landscape and provide informed advice on what is available to new and established businesses. 

  • Advice to anyone wishing to start a new business in Derby, Derbyshire and the East Midlands
  • Guidance to existing local small and medium sized businesses wanting to grow and develop.

In addition, we have access to research funding intelligence and our experienced bid developers can support the preparation of bids for collaborative research and innovation funding applications.

For more information, email or call 0800 001 5500.

Partner with us and access skills and expertise to help your business develop. A Knowledge Transfer Partnership is a partnership between your organisation, the University and a recent graduate. The focus is a specific project designed to address a business need.

  • Access qualified people to spearhead new projects
  • Access experts who can help take your business forward
  • Develop innovative solutions to help your business grow
  • Develop your business for today’s market
  • Increase your competitive advantage
  • Improve your performance/business operations
  • Gain part-funding through a Government grant.

In-company Research

Whether you want to assess the current status of your market including whether it is shrinking or growing, explore new markets or understand the behaviour of your target customer base, we can put you in touch with experts to help you make commercial decisions based on sound market research.

  • Two large observation rooms with viewing facilities for conducting attitudinal and customer focus group trials.
  • Technical research and product development and testing facilities.

Our employer engagement team can support you with your individual needs, whether you have a permanent graduate job opportunity, a new project concept to develop or a short term peak in workload, and need skilled, talented and work ready individuals.

Recruitment services

The Student Employment Agency offers a flexible service covering provision for short-term assignments, term contracts and beyond. The Agency plays a key part in helping students gain valuable employability skills, and gives them the chance to support themselves financially with the ethos ‘earn while they learn’.

Derby Internship Programme

The Internship programme is a fantastic way for employers to access the talent of our students and graduates to complete short-term, valuable projects. The programme can also be used to pipeline future recruitment, and many of our previous interns have gone on to secure longer-term employment where they have completed their internship.

Student Placements

Our team can guide you through the process from advertising to interviewing, to ensure you get the right student for your business. Your business is able to develop a long term relationship with a motivated and high quality individual who is able to bring smart thinking and creativity to your business.

Graduate Recruitment

The Careers and Employment Service offers all graduates a three-year promise, giving them access to support including our vacancy portal for up to three years after graduation. As an employer with graduate level opportunities, you can register on the portal and upload your vacancies or contact our team to talk through your requirements and the support we can provide you in accessing our talent.

Our wide range of training and professional development opportunities are helping to develop the workforces of global and local organisations.

Work-based learning allows you to tailor what your employees learn to the needs of your company, so they develop skills that directly help them in their role.

Our services include:

  • Offering bespoke courses and programmes
  • Enrolling employees on scheduled, professional courses
  • Offering University expertise ‘on loan’ – through innovation and knowledge transfer

Learning online

Our online degrees and professional courses are designed to allow busy professionals to balance studying with work and family life. Wherever you are in the world, you can graduate with a highly regarded British degree, without leaving home.

  • Programmes and courses are specially designed to provide structured, stimulating and relevant learning activities
  • Delivered by expert academics and experienced online tutors with support from a dedicated Online Learner Advisor
  • Learning materials accessible online at any time of day or night, including an extensive e-library and resource centre
  • Range of partnership models and opportunities that cater to your business needs.


Accreditation results in your in-company training programmes being recognised as university-level qualifications.

  • Turn in-house programmes into university-standard qualifications.
  • Learners gain academic credits which can be put towards higher-level qualification such as degrees.
  • More employees take part - they see the programme as of greater value.
  • Supporting Work Based Learning programmes for people who teach on in-house programmes.

Apprenticeships and Higher Apprenticeships

With new government reforms, there has never been a better time to get involved in apprenticeships. We are keen to work with employers across all sectors to develop Higher and Degree Apprenticeships.

Kakou Technologies Logo

Supporting a technology company in moving to the next level

In 2018, Kakou Technologies were the first business to base themselves within the University’s Innovation Centre and benefit from all the resources the centre provides. Since then, the organisation has gone from strength to strength, creating a real impact within the local community.

Find out more about the support providedFind out more about the support provided