We know that the financial cost of generating the new ideas, technologies and processes to help you achieve competitive advantage can be high. The University of Birmingham can help you to navigate your way through the funding opportunities that may be available for your organisation and find you a suitable academic partner. Funding opportunities are listed below or contact us for more information.
Birmingham Innovation Vouchers
Innovation Vouchers provide funding so that your business can work with the University to gain new knowledge to help your business innovate, develop and grow.
Working with the University might take the form of specific advice on product or process innovation; addressing a current technical challenge within your business, training or accessing the research facilities at the University.
Innovation Vouchers are offered on a competitive basis, and if successful, your business will be awarded an Innovation Voucher of up to £5,000 to work with an expert academic or access the facilities at the University. You can spend more if you wish, but the Voucher will only reimburse up to the £5,000 level.
Voucher recipients will be selected through a competition format by a panel of university experts. It is anticipated the scheme will support in the region of 10-15 companies through this call.
The closing date for this first round of applications was November 30th 2012, however, there maybe further calls open in the future. If you would like to be notified of this or other funding opportunities please call +44 (0)121 4145070 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Smart (previously known as Grant for Research and Development) is a scheme available through the Technology Strategy Board (TSB) offering funding to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to engage in R&D projects in the strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology, from which successful new products, processes and services could emerge.
Open from 4 April 2011, the scheme will support R&D projects which offer potentially significant rewards and could stimulate UK economic growth. In contrast to the Collaborative R&D programme, Smart funding is available to single companies. Three types of grant are available 'Proof of Market', 'Proof of Concept' and 'Development of Prototype'.
Any UK SME working in any sector may apply; applications are accepted on a rolling basis for assessment by independent experts.
Collaborative research and development (R&D) is designed to assist the industrial and research communities to work together on R&D projects in the strategically important areas of science, engineering and technology - from which successful new products, processes and services can emerge.
The scope of the collaborative R&D competitions has been expanded recently to support large projects as well as smaller projects approved within faster timescales.
See the TSB competitions search page for current opportunities
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)
A UK-wide programme enabling businesses to improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance. A KTP achieves this through the forming of a Partnership between your business and an academic institution (such as a university, further education college or research and technology organisation), enabling you to access skills and expertise to help your business develop. Projects can vary between 6 months and 3 years.
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS)
MAS (Manufacturing Advisory Service) is funded by BIS (Department for Business, Innovation and Skills). MAS provides manufacturing business support for companies based in England, helping them to improve and grow. MAS is accessible to all manufacturing businesses and SMEs may be eligible for funding on consultancy projects. MAS can provide consultancy projects in innovation, strategy, supply chain and efficiency following a free manufacturing review. MAS have team of dedicated Manufacturing Advisors across England who are able to tackle a wide range of manufacturing issues, for support and advice contact the helpdesk on 0845 658 9600 or via email@example.com or online at www.mymas.org
Engaging Research for Business Transformation Project
EREBUS is an ESRC-funded collaboration between Aston University, the University of Warwick and the University of Birmingham, which focuses on supporting knowledge transfer in SMEs, with specific themes of Energy, Health Technologies and Finance. Support takes the form of £3000 vouchers and placements worth £7000.
Science City Research Alliance (SCRA)
SCRA is a strategic union between the University of Birmingham and the University of Warwick in the technology areas of Advanced Materials, Energy Futures and Translational Medicine, in which both universities have a critical mass of expertise and facilities to help your business.
The Design Council
Promoting design and architecture as being at the heart of everything we do – delivers design support and advice to industry, communities, central and local government. Occasional competition calls.
The Design Council website
The project will be offering £10,000 grants to West Midlands SMEs that are developing innovative new products, processes or services. The applicant will need to be working with two other regional small businesses on the project. The grant needs to be matched with an additional project related spend of £12,500.
Find out more on the Innovation Networks website
TSB Innovation Vouchers
Grants of up to £5000 are available for SMEs to engage with new suppliers and knowledge providers. Sectors that have been identified for support at the moment are Agrifood, Built Environment and projects applicable to the Space sector.
For more information on Innovation Vouchers visit the TSB website
Innovative material for new wood burning stove - Landy Vent UK Ltd
A collaborative project between a West Midlands SME, Landy Vent, and the University of Birmingham has evaluated the performance of the Company’s unusual heating system and provided some interesting results.
Landy Vent’s new ‘ECCO Stove’ uses age old principles but is made with state-of-of-the-art silicon carbide to maximise efficiency, create lower emissions and decrease running costs. The whole structure of the ECCO Stove features silicon carbide which enables very high temperatures to be reached in the combustion chamber (typically 900-1000°C). The benefit of using such material is that silicon carbide is able to reflect heat back into the fire chamber for higher burn temperature; absorb these extreme temperatures and then release the heat slowly. The heat conduction properties of silicon carbide are primarily used in electrical conductors and furnaces but have not been traditionally used in home heating systems.
Landy Vent wanted to show that the ECCO Stove is more efficient than the conventional metal stove and approached the Manufacturing Advisory Service (MAS) for advice. MAS suggested that they talk to experts in thermofluids from the University of Birmingham.
Researchers from the University’s department of Mechanical Engineering, Dr Raya Al-Dadah and Dr Saad Mahmoud, set about installing temperature measuring devices connected to dataloggers and continuously monitored the temperature in a two-storey ‘test’ cottage where the ECCO Stove had been installed. Of particular interest was the temperature distribution throughout the cottage, in various positions and levels, not just at the location of the stove. Both the ECCO Stove and a more conventional metal stove were tested consecutively with temperatures being logged every 10 minutes over a three day period in cold January.
The results showed that there was a greater reduction in the temperature difference with distance from the metal stove, indicating that the effect of the metal stove decreases with distance. This could be due to the innovative use of silicon carbide producing a lower thermal capacity than that of the metal stove. The larger thermal mass of the Ecco Stove allowed heat to be released more evenly and consistently allowing the stove to maintain uniform temperature throughout the building.
"Breaking into the established stove market with our new EccoStove has been a challenge and the results from this project with the University of Birmingham will certainly help to demonstrate the benefits that it can bring." David Ashmore, Managing Director, Landy Vent UK Ltd
Improving Oral health - Oral Health Innovations Ltd
Oral Health Innovations Ltd were awarded an innovation voucher to work with Professor Trevor Burke at the University of Birmingham to design and coordinate a 12 month trial in ten dental practices.
The trial examined the impact of using a risk and disease-assessment system called PreViser on patient motivation, quality of life and improvements in oral health.
Liz Chapple, Managing Director at Oral Health Innovations said "Previous studies have shown how our technology accurately assesses a patient's risk of developing gum disease, which is the biggest cause of tooth loss in adults importantly, if identified early enough, gum disease can be stopped and we can keep our teeth for life. This trial enables us to quantify PreViser's impact on motivating patients to make that important choice. We are delighted to have been given the chance through the Innovation Voucher scheme to work with Professor Burke to undertake this trial."
Reynolds Technology Ltd
Whilst 85 percent of the company’s turnover is generated from the bicycle industry, the Company also provides innovative, high quality products made from durable advanced materials to the aerospace, automotive, oil and sporting goods sectors.
The company contacted the University because of a direct need in the area of materials characterisation and analysis. What started out as a short-term intervention to analyse the material structure and welding limitations of a particular alloy, has resulted in a long-term relationship on a number of different projects.
Using funding that included support from VIN technology services™ and schemes such as the Innovation Vouchers, the company have utilised the University of Birmingham’s advanced metallurgy department to analyse weld samples using advanced microscopical techniques and look at stress fatigue in steel alloys.
Significantly the results have led the company to consider other applications for their products, allowing them to diversify into new markets. In particular the Aerospace sector. Reynolds Technology Ltd is no longer just about bicycles.
“Without access to technology and expertise at the University of Birmingham we would not have been able to identify the critical issues preventing our progress. The quick response and ability to work within the commercial timeframes were instrumental in moving the project forward.” Keith Noronha, Managing Director, Reynolds Technology Ltd.
A new living concept that won't cost the earth - Ergohome
Civil engineers from the University of Birmingham are evaluating the thermal performance of a new type of house, called the Ergohome.
The Ergohome is an innovative living concept which includes built-in, robust sustainable features to address future housing needs. Made from structural insulated panels (SIPs) and a steel frame, it can be placed on stilts at over 2m above the ground.
The SIPs, which are used for the floor, walls and roof, are made from a modern composite building material: a foam block sandwiched between timber sheathings. The insulation on all sides of the Ergohome delivers thermal comfort and its structure makes it resistant to physical damage and unstable ground conditions.
Inventor Paul Chadwick said: “The Ergohome has the capability to address many of the issues related to housing today, including high energy efficiency and thermal comfort, low maintenance costs and carbon footprint as well as flood and subsidence tolerance.”
Dr Ian Jefferson from the University of Birmingham’s School of Civil Engineering said, “The UK has to find ways to make a step change in the cost, speed and quality of constructing dwellings in order to address the issues facing the housing sector, and this project offers an outstanding opportunity to evaluate the kind of product that is required.”
The Ergohome project has been made possible with funding from E.ON, AWM, West Midlands Centre for Construction Excellence, Dorothy Hodgkin, Innovation Vouchers and Ergohome Ltd.