The University of Wolverhampton is leading a consortium of universities in delivering a support programme designed to help small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the region that are in the early stages of developing new products.
The £1m Innovative Product Support Service (IPSS) project, part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), has been granted an extension and will now run until December 2015.
Since the project started in early 2013, over 100 companies have signed up to access the wide range of support.
The programme is particularly interested in businesses developing environmental, digital, electronic or medical technologies.
Professor Andrew Pollard, Director of the IPSS programme, said: “Through the IPSS project businesses within the West Midlands area will have access to the expertise offered by four universities from across the region. It is a great opportunity for West Midlands SMEs to get a helping hand in getting their new products to market and will make a real difference to the growth of their businesses.”
IPSS offers eligible businesses up to six days of funded support in areas such as product design, market research, electronics development and intellectual property rights protection. In some cases, SMEs can also access grant support for businesses to continue the development of their innovative products.
As part of the IPSS programme each beneficiary will receive an objective review of their product. For those businesses with a viable proposition, the programme aims to offer assistance regardless of whether it is a concept design model, a review of the IP status of a product or the development of an electronics based prototype
Project Manager, Abi Hopkins said: “The demand for support has been fantastic and new applications are received almost daily. We have established strong referral links with other University projects and external agencies to highlight the support available which has been effective. Regional SMEs are able to access a wide range of new product development support not only through the IPSS project but also through other funded programmes, therefore offering added value.”
The programme has attracted high profile keynote speakers and manufacturing enthusiasts such as TV presenter and historian Adam Hart-Davis, TV star and innovation enthusiast Robert Llewellyn and Martin McCourt, ex CEO of Dyson and additional events are being planned for later in 2014.
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Date Issued: Tuesday, 26 August 2014