£10 million boost for small businesses across Derbyshire

17 November 2016

The University of Derby has been awarded £5 million from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to deliver £10 million of innovation and business support to small businesses across Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire (D2N2).

Over the next three years small businesses can benefit from a variety of support to drive innovation and business growth from low carbon initiatives, to product development and consultancy. Businesses will also be able to access university student and graduate talent through placements and internships.

The ERDF is part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Programme 2014-20 which is managed by the Department of Communities and Local Government. These awards to the University of Derby have been made from the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership’s allocation.

The University will be working in partnership with Nottingham University, Nottingham Trent University, Loughborough University, Aston University, Derby City Council, Derbyshire County Council and others. The partners will work closely with the University on multiple projects to aid the development of small businesses in the region.

Professor Paul Stewart, Director of Innovation at the University of Derby who is leading the projects, said: “The aim of the projects is to help small businesses to innovate, exploit new market opportunities, create new products and boost competitiveness and profitability.

“The projects will enable the university to further support small businesses across the D2N2 region by sharing our knowledge, resources and expertise.

“We’re really looking forward to working with our partners in order to work collaboratively and co-operatively to benefit our region.”

Kedleston campus looking towards the library

The University of Derby is participating in six funded projects which include:

  1. Enabling Innovation – A collaborative project involving the University of Derby, Nottingham University and Nottingham Trent University. The Institute for Innovation in Sustainable Engineering (IISE) will provide advanced manufacturing and engineering companies with a ladder of fully funded opportunities to explore how technology can be harnessed to improve competitiveness.
  2. Enscite – Enscite will support transport equipment manufacturing (TEM) businesses by improving their productivity to facilitate growth and competitive advantage – in partnership with Aston University and Derby City Council. This programme will provide workshops for businesses in the TEM sector to develop enhanced organisational methodology and business improvement.
  3. Catalysing growth through Research for TEM – in partnership with the iNet at Loughborough University. To support transport equipment manufacturing or associated supply chain SMEs who wish to develop new products, processes and services.
  4. Derby and Derbyshire Energy and Efficiency (D2EE) – In partnership with the University of Derby, Derby City Council and Derbyshire County Council. This project will encourage and support the move of D2N2 towards a low carbon products, production processes and low-energy economy.
  5. Creative and Digital Industries – A comprehensive support programme for creative/ digital sectors from pre-start to rapid growth SMEs with partners across D2N2 led by Nottingham City Council.
  6. D2N2 Growth and Innovation Programme – SMEs can access grant funding for investment in innovation and growth to create sustainable jobs. Grants range from £15,000 to £500,000 and the maximum award is typically 30% of project costs. The University’s participation in the programme is through its Invest to Grow scheme.

Councillor Martin Rawson, Derby City Council said: “Aerospace, rail and automotive sectors account for over half of the economic output from Derby’s economy and employ around a third of the workforce.    

“Derby City Council is deeply committed to supporting growth in transport and engineering businesses. We have recently opened a new manufacturing-focused business park, Infinity Park Derby, and a new innovation centre, the iHub, dedicated to this.

“The Council is also passionate about building ever closer links between small and medium businesses and Universities with engineering specialisms, which is the aim of Enscite, and helping improve the understanding about the breadth of careers available locally in engineering through projects we are involved in like Enterprise for Education (E4E), Tomorrow’s Engineers, the annual Big Bang event and many others.”

Derbyshire County Council Leader and Cabinet Member for Strategic Policy, Economic Development and Budget, Councillor Anne Western, said: “Grants from the D2EE project are designed to help businesses reduce their energy costs and lower their carbon emissions.

“Not only will this help make them more competitive, it will also improve their green credentials while supporting our drive for a low carbon economy.

“Small and medium-sized businesses are a vital part of Derbyshire’s economy and by helping fund this project we are giving them access to state of the art equipment and technical expertise designed to improve efficiency and innovation.”

The number of SMEs in Derby has increased by 19% over the last six years with the creation of 5,600 jobs and £4.1 billion to the city’s economy, and with the help of this grant the University and its partners hope to see this figure continue to rise.

There are 5.4 million SME’s in the UK, which amounts to 99% of all businesses.

In order for small businesses to quality for support there are a number of requirements, for more information email: the University’s Business Engagement Team 0800 0015500 email: