SME support

We're a university of energy and enterprise. We offer modern and friendly business services to Small-to-Medium Enterprise (SMEs) of all shapes and sizes. We can help you secure funding for growth and innovation, and connect you with our in-house expertise, facilities, support networks and learning programmes.

Although our range of support is vast, you only need to talk to one team initially – they will explain everything that's on offer to you.

We currently run a number of part-funded or fully-funded schemes that are focused on helping SMEs in the East Midlands with research and development (R&D), innovation and growth.

There is also the part-funded Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme, which can help you address a specific business need by connecting your organisation with one of our academics and a recent graduate.

A university for SMEs

Universities can be daunting to SMEs, but not ours. Our track record of working with smaller organisations and our down-to-earth, practical approach means we’re the ideal partner for your expanding business.

200businesses helped**Invest to Grow, March 2019
£23mfunding awarded**Invest to Grow, March 2019

What our SMEs say about our support

"We have been working with the Low Carbon Business Network for about 12 months and they have helped us as a business to get our green mark accreditation. The green mark accreditation has helped our clients look at their fleets and create greener fleet solutions, saving money on their costs."

"I have been extremely impressed with both the University and the course. The most valued thing is that it gives you real transferable skills. In my first module I created a business plan which I then took to my boss and we have used within the business."

"I have been working with the University of Derby for quite a few years. I first had a studio at Banks Mill where I set up my fashion business. Since then I have been working with the fashion students and I am really excited to start working with a second year student who was referred to me."

"I worked with the Big House Project to produce a new product that creates digital patterns for the heritage craft of bobbin lace making. They enabled me to develop the product and produce the digital patterns. I then went on to crowd fund for the equipment and recently won two awards at the QUAD in Derby for the Mainframe Awards for Digital Innovation and New Product to Market."

You might also be interested in...

We run three hi-spec 'incubation units' for start-ups: two in Derby and one in Chesterfield. These provide affordable studio/office space and a range of business support services and events. 

More about space and support for start-ups

We have a great range of affordable work-related education and training packages.

From heavily subsidised higher-level or degree apprenticeships, to shorter courses and Continuing Professional Development (CPD), or traditional degrees and qualifications that can be studied part-time.

Education and training for businesses

Our dedicated Employer Engagement team will help you find fresh talent for your business. They can recruit students or recent graduates for:

  • Work experience, volunteering and projects
  • Internships and longer placements
  • Graduate jobs or part-time/casual work

Recruiting students and graduates

David Smith, The National Forest Spring Water Company

Our turnover is set to increase by 35-40% by the end of the year. The funding has enabled us to increase production, become more efficient, and ‘step up a level’.

David Smith
MD, The National Forest Spring Water Company
National Forest Spring Water Company MD David Smith stands in front of crates of drinking water in plastic bottles

Access our Invest to Grow funding for your business

Our Invest to Grow programme provides grants and loans of between £15,000 and £250,000 to support private-sector businesses across the East Midlands to innovate, grow and create jobs.

Learn more about Invest to GrowLearn more about Invest to Grow