What is the Smart Concept Fund Project?

The Smart Concept Fund offers Proof of Concept (PoC) grant funding designed to support the commercialisation of new technologies. If successful, applicants will be awarded a grant of up to £16,500 at an intervention rate of up to 55% of approved project costs to help fund an approved product development project, subject to eligibility conditions.

Who is eligible to the project?

  • Smart Concept Fund is currently available to businesses in The Black Country, The Marches as well as Stoke on Trent, Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership areas. We can support small to medium enterprises that:
    • are independently owned
    • have less than 250 employees
    • turnover less than €50 million per annum

Can you please explain what kind of the benefits the project can bring for the companies?

  • There are many benefits of working with the Smart Concept Fund project. The biggest benefit SME’s find is the financial support. Businesses have fantastic innovative ideas; however, due to resource limitations for development work, the progress is often slow or discontinued. The grants have been specifically designed to offer funding support to those who are ready to carry out proof of concept work.
  • As part of the process we allocate an advice to support the development of the grant application in the form of a business plan. There is no cost the SME for this work and it allows the applicants to create a fully developed business plan which can be utilised in whichever way is best for the beneficiary. 
  • On a larger scale, the work that is being carried out by SMEs and the Smart Concept Fund project contributes to the economic growth and success of the local area. It provides a platform for innovative activities to be undertaken which can develop into businesses and income generators that would otherwise be non-existent.

 What is the grant application processes?

  • In the first instance the applicant submits an Expression of Interest form, this is available from a member of the project team (smartconceptfund@wlv.ac.uk). We can then assess your eligibility and advise if you are entitled to a 45% or 55% intervention rate.
  • We will then allocate your application a designated time to be reviewed by our Investment Decision Group (IDG). In the period leading up to the decision group meeting, a member of the project team will support the development of your full grant application which will take the form of a business plan.

Once the IDG has reviewed the application and a grant has been awarded, it’s a case of having a meeting to sign the required documentation and talk you through the procurement process. Then you are ready to start your agreed project. 

How many companies has Smart Concept Fund helped so far?

The project is still in the early stages but at the moment the Smart Concept Fund team is actively working with thirteen SME’s to support them through the procurement process or helping them develop their grant application. We are working with SMEs from a range of sectors including environmental, technology life sciences  and manufacturing.  

How long will the project last?

SME projects can vary in length according to the work which they will be carrying out. Some companies have support lasting a few months and others exceeding a year. In terms of the Smart Concept Fund project, we are open for applications until late 2022 and all projects will have finished by the end of March 2023

What the type of businesses Smart Concept Fund can support?

Smart Concept Fund can support businesses carrying out proof of concept work, targeted towards sectors which include:

  • Transport Technologies (including aerospace and automotive)
  • Building technologies/construction
  • Advanced manufacturing and advanced engineering
  • Environmental technologies
  • Applied materials
  • Agri-tech/agriculture, food and drink
  • Medical technology
  • Energy generation
  • Defence and securities

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Alana Correa
Project Manager for Smart Concept Fund