Call for companies to enter contest for European-funded industrial research projects

17 January 2020

SME businesses in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire still have time to enter a scheme to access European funding and academic know-how to boost productivity and development.

The Productivity through Innovation (PtI) Scheme, funded through the European Regional Development Fund and delivered by the University of Derby in collaboration Nottingham and Nottingham Trent universities, is open to all small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership area.

Up to nine companies will receive funding support to each take on a dedicated university post graduate student with the skills and knowledge to tackle a specific business project, such as product development and system design.

Academic support and access to university facilities, technology and other essential resources will also be made available to the businesses.

Successful completion of the 12-18 months research project, which must be part-sponsored by the successful SMEs to cover the cost of the students’ stipend - their basic salary - and travel expenses, will result in a full Industrial MPhil studentship for each of the graduates.

The deadline to enter the scheme is 31 January 2020.

Sophie Beer, the University of Derby’s ERDF Project Manager, said: “This is an excellent opportunity for SMEs across the region to bring in new skills and knowledge, along with a fresh perspective to find solutions to a particular challenge or opportunity which could help transform their business.

“This isn’t limited to any particular sector or market. It really is down to companies who would benefit from academic support and resources to work with us to clearly identify their needs and to find the expertise which will help them to achieve a specific business objective.”

Guidance notes and application forms are available by emailing Sophie at

Applications are particularly sought from, but not limited to, companies operating in the following sectors:

 For more information, visit the Productivity Through Innovation page of our website.

Case Study

Nottingham company SOE Health has teamed up with the University of Derby on a three-year project to run clinical trials of its SoeMac treatment for respiratory disorders and other health conditions, with the aim of one day having the treatment recommended on prescription by the NHS.

Managing director Neil Stentiford is working with Dr Mark Faghy, who specialises in non-pharmacological treatments for respiratory disorders, and co-sponsoring PhD student Sam Grimwood with help from the European Regional Development Fund.

Neil said: “We are in process of running a formal clinical trial with up to 100 COPD sufferers with Mark as principal investigator, heading the project. We hope our collaboration will lead to a bigger, multi-site Randomised Controlled Double-Blinded Clinical Trial (RCDBT) which is the ‘gold standard’."

“We are excited to be working alongside the University of Derby on this project, and look forward to a long-term relationship.”

Dr Faghy said: “Sam’s role is to provide vital assistance with the design and delivery of the experimental trials that provide SoeMac with an evidence base derived from empirical and robust investigations. These will enable future and more advanced scientific investigation and provide a platform that Neil and SoeMac can use in future work.”

For further information contact the press office at