A £786,000 Innovation Engine project – part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) – has been given the green light. The ground-breaking two-year initiative will identify health and low carbon challenges of larger organisations located within the West Midlands, and build local SME and university consortia to develop and deliver solutions.
The project is being led by Innovation Birmingham, with the deliver partners consisting of; Heart of England NHS Foundation Trust (HEFT); University Hospitals Birmingham NHS Foundation Trust (UHB); Birmingham City University; the University of Birmingham; and Birmingham City Council. The Innovation Engine project was initiated by Birmingham Science City, which brought together the team of delivery partners and will be closely involved in the project governance.
Pam Waddell, Director of Birmingham Science City said: “I am delighted close to £800,000 has been awarded for this ground-breaking project that will fuel innovation in business across the West Midlands. The Innovation Engine project team will uncover challenges in large public and private organisations and drive the development of highly innovative solutions from specialist local SME firms and universities. This two-year initiative will showcase the new technology and knowledge that this region is rapidly gaining a reputation for, while at the same time presenting game-changing opportunities to innovative businesses and university departments.”
The Innovation Engine will assist at least 80 local SME firms over a two year period in creating new products and services, in order to fulfill the specific challenges larger public and private organisations wish to overcome. The project will enable demand-led exploitation of new ideas and technologies and open new market opportunities.
David Rowe, Member of the West Midlands ERDF Local Management Committee said: “Within the local area, and particularly universities, there is a wealth of skills and knowledge in the field of innovation that has the potential to help businesses move forward with new ideas and ways of working to improve their performance and profits.
“Tapping into this innovation resource and helping to form effective university to business relationships is essential. This new project does just that; matching business needs with local expertise to effectively encourage local growth. I am delighted that we have been able to offer ERDF funding to help strengthen this important category of partnerships.”
The Innovation Engine will initially focus on the healthcare and environmental technology sectors.
Hugo Russell, Project Manager at Innovation Birmingham and the lead for the Innovation Engine said: “This project was inspired by an effective tool used by the northern region of France and other European funded projects. It will encourage the adoption of new innovations, as well as some potentially disruptive technological solutions which could make a profound change to existing markets.
“Across the lead delivery partners, we will be facilitating collaborative working groups and consortia of specialists to propose ground-breaking solutions to business challenges. We will also be encouraging an exchange of ideas and technologies between sectors. The overriding objective is to stimulate new markets and growth across Greater Birmingham.”