Sheffield Innovation Programme Receives Funding Boost

Originally published on https://www.sheffield.ac.uk/news/

A successful project set up to support businesses across the region to innovate through collaboration with the city’s two universities has received £1.8m in further funding.

The Sheffield Innovation Programme was set up in 2016 to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the region to access academic expertise, facilities and resources at both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University to stimulate innovation to deliver new products and services.

The programme is jointly funded by both universities, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF). The new phase of the project also includes the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, and enables the project to continue for a further three years until 2022.

The programme is free for businesses to use and, since it began, more than 200 academics from both universities have worked with more than 300 companies from across the region. This has helped businesses in the region to engage in more than £1.2m worth of collaborative projects through Innovate UK programmes.

Professor Dave Petley, Vice-President for Research at the University of Sheffield, said: “We’re delighted that this successful programme, which has such a profound impact on businesses and economic growth in our region, will continue for another three years.

“This scheme is a fantastic way for regional businesses to access our world-leading facilities and academic expertise to drive innovation and find solutions to the challenges they face.

“At the University of Sheffield, we have a deeply ingrained connection to our region and a sense of pride in our civic values. Contributing to the growth and regeneration of the Sheffield City Region is a key part of our founding mission and ongoing strategy today.

“This is an excellent example of working together with partners in our region to drive economic growth.”

As part of the programme, the universities have provided businesses with academic support for projects, workshop-based innovation guidance, student interns and their world-class facilities.

Catal International produces catalysts for industrial applications and was looking for support to develop an advanced catalyst system, incorporating Potassium Titanate, for application in Municipal Solid Waste conversion processes.

This scheme is a fantastic way for regional businesses to access our world-leading facilities and academic expertise to drive innovation and find solutions to the challenges they face.

Professor Dave Petley

The company approached the Sheffield Innovation Programme to access high-performance equipment and facilities from the University of Sheffield to enable the company to develop a fibre-free Potassium Titanate product in order to overcome occupational health concerns. As a result of this, Catal is now working on scaling-up production quantities to a commercial level.

Andrew Holt, owner and CEO of Catal International Ltd, said: “Without the assistance and the facilities of the Innovation programme, we would not have been able to develop the product to the current position.”

Another example of the Sheffield Innovation Programme’s work is with Infraglo Ltd, a Sheffield-based burner manufacturer. Sheffield Hallam University academic staff worked with the company to win a Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) from Innovate UK, based around embedding advanced electronic and product design methods to develop innovative ‘Internet of Things’ products for integration and deployment with burner products.

Nick Shirt, Commercial Director at Infraglo Ltd said: “SIP bridged the gap between applied research and commercialisation by giving us access to expertise in the design and development of our innovative products.”

Professor Roger Eccleston, Deputy Vice-Chancellor (Academic) at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “We’re delighted the project has received further funding which highlights the impact it is having for businesses in the region and the wider economy.

“Many of the collaborations have resulted in lasting professional relationships and, more importantly, market success for the businesses we’ve worked with, contributing to the economic growth of the region as a whole.

“Thanks to input from our academics and their research, a number of businesses have been able to find solutions to real-life business problems and bring new products to market.

“This is just one of the ways Sheffield Hallam utilises its research and innovation to support regional businesses whilst attracting new inward investment, helping to drive future economies.”

James Muir, Chair of the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership, said: “It’s inspiring to see our region once again leading the way with cutting-edge university and industry collaborations. I’m proud that the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership is able to support this important programme, with more than £200,000 in match funding and an active role in selecting two new specialist innovation advisors to work on the project.

“Collaborations between our two leading universities and our innovative and forward-thinking businesses leads to exciting new developments and enables companies to bring new products to the market, further strengthening the economy and boosting supply-chains.”

Working closely with the Sheffield City Region Local Enterprise Partnership and other key partners, Sheffield Innovation Programme provides research and innovation to support regional businesses whilst attracting new inward investment.