Knowledge Exchange for Innovation (KEI)

Knowledge Exchange Scheme

View Knowledge Exchange Scheme video transcript

What is KEI?

The KEI fund is designed to encourage collaboration between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the University of Derby. The University is looking to support SMEs to become more innovative and realise their growth ambitions. Part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the KEI fund will enable businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through utilising the knowledge, technology and skills of the University of Derby.

The KEI fund is part of the wider ERDF funded ‘Enabling Innovation’ programme which will be delivered over the period 2014-20. Enabling Innovation is a suite of support activities aimed at SMEs in the D2N2 area which has been developed in partnership with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University.

Applications for KEI projects are welcomed from SMEs across a wide range of industries and sectors.

Please note that the KEI fund is only open to Small Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire) area.

Who is it for?

  1. SMEs in the D2N2 area looking to collaborate with the University
  2. SMEs with an innovative idea which they would like to develop
  3. SMEs interested in employing a recent graduate to deliver an innovation project
  4. SMEs who already have access to funds for some of the project costs

Key aspects of a KEI project:

Each KEI project will consist of 3 key component parts:

  1. The Business,
  2. The Graduate (Affiliate),
  3. The University (academic).

A recently qualified graduate will be recruited to undertake a bespoke project to identify innovative solutions to support your business growth.

Businesses will also have access to University expertise as well as a 30% grant * to support the costs of employing the Graduate.

(* this is based on a graduate salary of £22,000 pa, which means the SME would receive a grant of £6,600)

Project length: typically 6–18 months.

Projects will need to include a sound business rationale, detailing why the project is innovative and what impact the KEI project is going to have in terms of business growth and expansion. For the purposes of the KEI fund, innovation is the successful development and introduction of new ideas, new ways of running business and new ways of doing business.

How to apply

To start the application process off, you will need to complete a form and forward this to the Knowledge Exchange Team. A member of the team will then contact you to discuss the detail of your project and how it fits with the scheme criteria.

If your proposal is accepted, the next stage is to complete a full application.

The project is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to deliver free support for eligible SMEs in the D2N2 area.

For further information please contact the Knowledge Exchange team on 01332 593394 or

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