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Greater Manchester businesses urged to unleash their innovation by partnering with universities

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Chris Greenhalgh, head of innovation at GC Business Growth Hub

Established small and medium-sized businesses in Greater Manchester have the chance to work with local universities and leading regional research establishments thanks to GC Business Growth Hub’s Innovation Voucher scheme.

Up to £5,000 of Innovation Vouchers, which must be 100% matched funded by the company themselves, can be applied for ahead of June 30th, which is the end of the current funding round.

Businesses who are successful will then get to invest the vouchers into product design, research and development, knowledge transfer, consultancy support and other services at one of Greater Manchester’s four universities or a similar research-led institution.

Chris Greenhalgh, head of innovation at GC Business Growth Hub, said: “Business projects that are struggling to make progress because of difficulties in accessing the right expertise or equipment can really benefit from the Innovation Voucher scheme.

“They help SMEs to unlock the wealth of expertise, facilities and insights which exists within Greater Manchester’s four universities and other research-centred organisations in the region.  However, the deadline to apply for this round of funding is June 30th so the clock is ticking.”

One Greater Manchester firm which has taken advantage of Innovation Vouchers is Levitex Foams in Hale.

They successfully applied for funding allowing them to undertake a project with University of Salford. CEO James Leinhardt said: “The application process was quick and easy, and we were working on our project with the university within two weeks. I’d really encourage other SMEs to apply – it was a no-brainer for me.”

Successful applicants must be a small to medium sized enterprise and will be required to match the exact value of the Innovation Voucher.

For example, businesses applying for the maximum voucher of £5,000 will need to contribute an additional £5,000 (and the full VAT cost) of their own money to create a total Innovation Voucher fund of £10,000 (ex VAT).

The minimum contribution from businesses is £3,000, though smaller exceptional projects may be considered for product development and prototyping projects.