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When developing products and services you should consider all the options available, including business grants, support from universities, intellectual property, and finding partners for collaboration.

Ashfield Accelerator Project: Innovation and productivity

This project is delivered by East Midlands Chamber and funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). It forms part of our new Accelerator Programme and offers support to local businesses to improve commercial operations and bring new products to market. Small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) will have access to specialist consultants to explore and adopt new technologies and take advantage of any national programmes, such as Innovate UK EDGE and Made Smarter.

In addition to this, SMEs will also have access to the new Ashfield Accelerator Grant which can provide between £8000 to £30,000 to support costs associated with adopting new technologies, research and innovation, trading overseas, decarbonisation and workforce development projects. Please visit our Business Grants page for information on grants available.

Enterprising Ashfield - R&D Support

The Enterprising Ashfield Project is a fully funded programme from Ashfield District Council, delivered by Nottingham Trent University. It's open to individuals in or out of work, and living or working within eligible postcodes in Kirkby in Ashfield or Sutton in Ashfield. You can check your postcode using the eligibility checker (external link). Participants will be supported to develop new and innovative products or processes through identification of needs and opportunities and will gain access to a range of experts who can then help you to achieve your research and development goals.

This programme can support innovation applied to a range of subject areas, such as: Computer Science/Information Strategy/Security, Operations (e.g. Flow Management), Automation, Design Centre, Medical Technologies, Wireless networks-based solutions, Intelligent Engineering Solutions, UX – website and App User Experience, Business Strategy Review/Development, and Marketing (strategy, planning & implementation).  You can also work with Enterprising Ashfield Project team to identify additional areas of support, as innovation covers so many areas that its not possible to capture them all here.

Global Business Innovation Programme

This programme is open to small or medium sized businesses based in UK who are ambitious with a commitment to grow and scale globally with the need to better understand how to tackle global markets, to build partnerships and collaborations, and to explore future opportunities. A senior person from the company needs to commit to being involved in all stages of the programme. This programme is repeated focusing on specific market and technology or sector area, and will provide an opportunity for a cohort of up to 15 ambitious innovative UK businesses to explore future opportunities and their are 3 stages: Get Ready workshop, Visit the market, and Exploit Opportunity.

Please look at which countries have visits scheduled and apply as early as possible but Innovate UK will fund and organise group flights, group accommodation and group in-market travel for successful applicants. One senior representative from each company will be funded.

Create Growth N2 Programme

This is a new investment programme from the Department for Culture, Media and Sport and is available for creative businesses in Nottinghamshire. It's been designed to bring expert advice and guidance to help creative businesses with high-growth aspirations to gain investment opportunities to innovate and grow. To be eligible, your business must demonstrate high-growth potential, have the ambition to scale up with sales revenues generated in the last 2 years, and you must now be seeking investment for growth.

Business grants

The Smart Manufacturing Data Hub - East Midlands

If you are an SME and a manufacturer then you can access to state-of-the-art digital technologies designed to enhance productivity and drive growth, and get advice from industry leaders to help you navigate businesses digital transformations. SMDH also have funding opportunities available to support innovation projects:

  • Rapid demonstrators: Up to £50,000 for sensor and data integration projects.
  • National lighthouse projects: Up to £315,000 for comprehensive digital solutions.
  • Virtual testbeds: Up to £100,000 for utilizing pre-existing testbeds

There will be additional funding rounds open in June and July; however the May round is closing soon. For more details, please visit SMDH Funding Opportunities

Horizon Europe Funding

Horizon Europe is the EU’s research and innovation funding programme. It has a budget of €95.5 billion and runs until 2027. If you are a UK-based researcher, innovator, or organisation, then you can apply for most Horizon Europe funding opportunities on the same terms as EU-based applicants.

It is divided into 3 Pillars:

Innovate UK Business Growth

Expert advice for businesses looking to commercialise new ideas and succeed in international markets. If you employ less than 500 staff you can get funding, and bespoke support to help grow your business. This includes:

  • Exploiting innovation, intellectual property, and connections in the UK and abroad
  • Entering new markets at home and abroad
  • Accessing funding and finance, and getting investment-ready.

Innovate UK Business Connect

If you are looking for experienced input into your idea, product, service, research, or challenge, then Innovate UK Business Connect - formally known as KTN - can help with making useful connections spanning business, government, funders, research, and the third sector. It also delivers the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which is a national programme that brings together new skills and the latest academic thinking to deliver specific, strategic innovation projects, through a knowledge-based partnership. They can work with any established business, including social enterprises but not start-ups.

Solid Edge for Start-ups

The Solid Edge for Start-ups programme provides eligible start-ups with free access to a complete solution for product development, including CAD, CAM, and CAE software. This is open to small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) who have been operating for less than 3 years, and are registered at Companies House.

Support from Universities

The Omnifactory

The Omnifactory is a new £3.8 million facility opened by the University of Nottingham that will revolutionize the world of manufacturing, making it more efficient and cost-effective. It is a state-of-the-art concept factory where different digital technologies can be implemented to improve traditional manufacturing practices. The way it works is it contains a bespoke test bed floor, which provides a unique reconfigurable environment. The floor autonomously adapts itself to the next product’s environment and specifications, reshaping itself through a combination of digital technologies, robotics, and artificial intelligence.

This facility is available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

Support with IP and Patents

Research and development (R&D) tax credits

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) can claim for R&D relief if a research and development project seeks to achieve an advance in overall knowledge or capability in a field of science or technology, through the resolution of a scientific or technological uncertainty.

Intellectual Property

IP Audit Plus

An audit allows you to gain a clearer picture of your intellectual property (IP) assets, so you can manage your own IP and develop an effective plan to grow your business safely. It is particularly relevant for businesses identified as having potential to grow. You can access a grant worth up to £2500, which is available when you apply for an IP audit worth £3000.

Intellectual Property Office (IPO)

The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) can help with patent applications, IP business events, examples of IP case studies, valuing IP, licensing, and much more.

Intellectual property attachés

Intellectual property specialist attachés can provide advice on protecting a business’s rights in key international markets.

British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre

The British Library Business and Intellectual Property Centre provides entrepreneurs and SMEs with free access to databases, market research, journals, directories, and reports worth thousands of pounds. There is a programme of free and low-cost events and workshops on a range of topics, including business planning, marketing, and intellectual property.

Patent Box

Patent Box encourages companies to keep and commercialise intellectual property in the UK. It allows companies to apply a lower rate of Corporation Tax to profits earned from its patented inventions. Companies must elect to the Patent Box to apply the lower rate of Corporation Tax, which is 10%.

Find partners to collaborate on projects


Konfer is a free online platform that offers the most efficient way to navigate around resources, technology, and innovation capabilities that exist in the UK innovation eco-system. You can discover and engage with experts beyond your typical reach and discuss new ideas and opportunities for projects. This platform allows you to search and discover, respond to top opportunities, and invite experts to collaborate with you.

UK Catapult Centres

A Catapult Centre is where the application of research is accelerated, where new technologies are further developed, scaled up, and realised. Catapult Centres provide businesses with access to expertise and facilities, enabling them to test, demonstrate, and improve their ideas. By fostering collaborations between industry, government, research organisations, academia, and many others, Catapult Centres are helping to create the best environment for innovation. Catapults work with small, medium, and large businesses, to understand the challenges they face and support them in the development of solutions that will help improve their business performance.

Page last updated: 21 May 2024