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£4m of business funding for "new products, new services and hundreds of jobs"

South West businesses will benefit from £4m of new funding that will lead to new products, services and jobs, as the University of the West of England (UWE Bristol) relaunches its highly successful Innovation 4 Growth (I4G) programme.

Ambitious South West businesses could now benefit from another new Regional Growth Fund opportunity in the form of the newly launched Innovation 4 Growth Fund (I4G).

Similar to the South West Growth Fund (a different RGF scheme launched this week - details can be found at www.gaininbusiness/swgf), Innovation 4 Growth will cover businesses across Bristol, Bath, Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire, Somerset or Wiltshire. 

This scheme part-funds research and development projects with grants of between £25,000 and £150,000 (covering up to 35% of total project costs) and is aimed at small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) operating in any sector. 

Financed through the Regional Growth Fund, the I4G programme aims to support businesses to create new, and safeguard existing, jobs through the development of innovative products, technologies, processes and services.

Forty businesses received I4G grants in 2014, committing to a cumulative total of 249 existing jobs being safeguarded in the region, and the recruitment of 183 new positions. Business case studies can be viewed here.

A distinctive characteristic of the I4G scheme is the University's emphasis on providing businesses with practical, face-to-face support throughout the application process, primarily at its confidential drop-in sessions held across the South West.

Bristol-based games developer Opposable Games received an I4G grant in 2014. Ben Trewhella, Opposable Games' Managing Director, said, “Our I4G grant has enabled us to take on four new members of staff to help with delivery of the Salvaged project, and to protect the jobs of five existing colleagues. It is really exciting to see the intended results of the funded project coming to fruition – to be launching the game demo and to be preparing to take the full version into the marketplace.”

Matthew Lloyd, Managing Director at award winning lighting manufacturer Global Design Solutions - another I4G grant recipient, said:
“The I4G Team was very engaged with SMEs and with the challenges that faced us as a growing company”. The impact on the company has been fantastic. We have increased our staff by 30% and have become much more commercially attractive. We now have companies asking to partner with us – from the UK and the US.
"It has also allowed us to become more profitable, more quickly, primarily as a result of the new technology we have been able to innovate which would have taken a couple more years to develop without the grant.”
Professor Martin Boddy, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Research and Business Engagement at UWE, said, 
“We are delighted to be offering another round of I4G funding. Last year the programme was directly responsible for attracting more than £7m of private sector investment in research and development and grant beneficiaries committed to securing 432 regional jobs. On that basis, the new fund means new products, new services and hundreds of jobs for the South West.
"We take our role as a supporter of SMEs and a facilitator of innovative research and development activity very seriously. Building networks that help to promote economic growth, sustainability and innovation is at the heart of our corporate strategy, and is reflected in the initiatives we lead, from I4G to the highly successful iNet South West projects.
"Our Research and Business Development Managers are 'hands-on', supportive professionals, who put the needs of the businesses they engage with first – helping them to achieve their commercial goals. This distinctive approach was recognised last year when UWE became the first university to be shortlisted for the National Business Awards, in the Blackberry Business Enabler category.
"Any business in the South West that is undertaking an innovation or research and development project - from start-ups and micro enterprises, to more established companies - should consider applying for an I4G grant. Our 'enabling' approach is evident in the simple application process and in the support available through the advisors. We aim to make the process as painless as possible!”
From Monday 7 September to Wednesday 14 October 2015 drop in advice sessions for potential applicants will be offered. There will be a weekly drop in at UWE Bristol and one somewhere else in the region each week, so there will be 10 sessions available to companies throughout this period.

If you would like a confidential discussion about a potential application, or require more general information about the scheme, contact the I4G Team on: innovation4growth@uwe.ac.uk.
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