What are Innovation Vouchers?
“The Innovation Vouchers allow small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in Greater Manchester to apply for up to £5,000 worth of funding to access expertise, research and specialist facilities to accelerate the development of new products, services or processes.”
What kind of activity can the vouchers be used for?
“The kinds of activities the vouchers can be used to fund include:
• Access to facilities and equipment
• Product design
• Research and development
• Knowledge transfer
Do I have to meet certain eligibility criteria?
“Yes, the scheme does have eligibility and suitability criteria which you will have to meet. Firstly, you must be an established SME based within one of ten local authorities of Greater Manchester. Secondly, the product, service or process which you are putting forward must either be new to the market or new to your business. When reviewing your application, we will also look at other factors such as whether your innovation will help to create any new jobs in your local area. All applicants will be assessed on a case-by-case basis to determine your eligibility for the scheme.”
Are the vouchers free to access?
“Successful applicants must match the value of the Innovation Vouchers with a £1 contribution for every £1 received. For example, businesses applying for the maximum voucher of £5,000 will be required to contribute £5,000 (and the full VAT cost). The minimum contribution from businesses is £3,000.”
How will the Innovation Vouchers benefit my business?
“In addition to helping you quickly take your innovation to market, the vouchers also give organisations the opportunity to develop a long-term partnership with a university or recognised research institution (which is typically not-for-profit), enabling knowledge transfer from academic staff to your business. Here at GC Business Growth Hub, we have a team of ten business advisors who work closely with our partner institutions. We will do all the legwork to facilitate the introduction between your business and the university or research partner, matching you to the right project and academic expertise based on the specific needs and ambitions of your company.”
Which university or research organisation could I be matched to?
“The university or research organisation that your business will be matched to depends wholly on the knowledge or expertise you require. We have links with many universities and not-for-profit research organisations right across the UK. Given our heritage in Greater Manchester, we work closely with the city-region’s world-class universities: The University of Manchester, Manchester Metropolitan University, The University of Salford and the University of Bolton and the Science and Technology Facilities Council campus based in Daresbury. However, we will facilitate introductions and connections to academics and experts in the relevant fields, regardless of their locality, to help your business develop long-term partnerships that benefit your organisation’s vision and ambition.”
Why is innovation important?
“Innovation is vitally important for small and medium-sized businesses. It leads to stronger turnover performance, better productivity and a higher level of competitiveness. The pace of innovation for SMEs in Greater Manchester has also never been faster, with huge sums of money spent on developing products and services every year. Businesses can often feel under pressure to increase investment into innovation – even when they are claiming R&D tax incentives – so the Innovation Vouchers scheme is a fantastic solution.”
What kind of businesses have already benefitted from the initiative?
“We’ve already had a wide range of businesses who’ve been successful in receiving funding through the Innovation Vouchers scheme, in sectors such as manufacturing, health and wellness and environmental services. It’s great that we’ve helped such a cross-section of different organisations, and myself and the team are looking forward to supporting many more over the coming months.”
How can I apply?
“The application process is really quick and easy. Simply fill out the online form at businessgrowthhub.com/innovation/services/funding and one of the GC Business Growth Hub team will be in touch. We review all applications in-house, so we aim to give you a decision on your eligibility very quickly. We look forward to hearing from you!”
Unlocking Potential in Business
GC Business Growth Hub makes businesses in Greater Manchester the very best they can be. The Hub unlocks potential in business by helping them drive sustainability, spark innovation, develop leadership and talent, become more efficient, sell more and open new markets, and access finance and funding, as well as helping entrepreneurs start their own business. Experienced advisors spend time getting to know you and your business objectives, enabling them to create a bespoke growth plan which adapts as your company evolves.
The tailored support they deliver is often fully-funded (at no cost to your business) and includes specialist programmes, one-to-one and peer-to-peer advice, events, exclusive resources. Contact GC Business Growth Hub today on 0161 359 3050, BGH@growthco.uk or via www.businessgrowthhub.com
GC Business Growth Hub is part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the a project designed to help ambitious SME businesses achieve growth and increase employment in Greater Manchester. The Hub is also supported by the Greater Manchester Combined Authority and Greater Manchester local authorities.