Universities launch multi-million pound research project at Thornton Science Park.

Posted on 25th May 2017

A multi-million pound eco-innovation programme, aimed at boosting businesses in Cheshire and Warrington, has been launched at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park.

University of Chester Business Development Managers offering one to one support on Eco-Innovation.
University of Chester Business Development Managers offering one to one support on Eco-Innovation.

Eco-innovation Cheshire and Warrington connects businesses and universities to achieve business growth and innovation through funded Research and Development (R&D). Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the Cheshire and Warrington area will get unique access to the resource, excellence and expertise of the University of Chester and Lancaster University. It provides SME businesses with the opportunity to be part of a structured programme of collaborative R&D interventions and activities. It supports SMEs to innovate and commercialise new low carbon products and services.

Eco-Innovation Cheshire and Warrington is delivered by the University of Chester and Lancaster University and is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF).

The aim is to accelerate a transition towards a low carbon economy in all sectors, which opens the programme to businesses which innovate in a wide range of product, process and service areas. Project ideas are welcomed which might include, by way of examples:

  • Environmental technologies, including pollution control and waste management
  • Energy applications, including renewable and efficient energy generation, use and storage
  • Carbon reduction projects including materials development, alternative fuels, building technologies, and logistics.

(Due to funding conditions applied by the UK Government, the only low-carbon sector that the programme is unable to support is nuclear.)

The Eco-Innovation team is particularly keen to hear from SMEs which have a substantial innovation idea in mind, but need expert help to get it off the ground. Those which meet the criteria would benefit from ‘in-depth’ funded R&D. These ‘in-depth’ schemes are three year innovation-focused research projects, which form the basis of a PhD for a researcher at either the University of Chester or Lancaster University. The support package (which is available for 22 projects) provides a dedicated full-time researcher, has a value of between £100,000 to £150,000, and comes at an annual cost of £5,500 to the business. The deadline for submission of an expression of interest for these projects is Monday June 5 2017.

Other funded innovation support is available under the scheme.

Professor Nick Avis, Pro-Vice-Chancellor and Executive Dean of the Faculty of Science and Engineering at the University of Chester, said “The University of Chester’s Faculty of Science and Engineering at Thornton Science Park is extremely well placed to be part of the Eco-Innovation programme, which is building on our ambition to blend academia with industry. Thornton is already making its mark with its unique collaboration of industry, innovation and academia, the emerging Energy Centre, and our Faculty’s own wealth of expertise on offer. We look forward to working with SMEs on this exciting scheme.”

Dr Andy Pickard, Manager of the award winning Centre for Global Eco-Innovation® at Lancaster University said: “SME businesses are imaginative, fast moving and close to the market.  They are bursting with ideas, but often report they don’t have the time, people, or resources to undertake the R&D to develop them.  This is an opportunity to access the understanding, people and facilities of world leading research institutions to support new product and service development with environmental benefits in all sectors.”

There are eligibility criteria to obtain funded support from this programme. Your business must be an SME with an address within the Cheshire East, Cheshire West and Chester, and the Warrington Council areas. Your business must have less than 250 employees and have an annual turnover less than £41million. 

To find out more and to access support, please contact: Rhian Bowen (Business Development Manager at the University of Chester): r.bowen@chester.ac.uk; phone: 01244 512493; or Stephen King, (Business Development Manager at Lancaster University): s.king7@lancaster.ac.uk; phone: 01524 510745.