Inspiring new products and services: apply for business funding

UK businesses can apply for a share of up to £25 million to work on innovative technologies, future products and services.

Innovate UK has up to £25 million to invest in emerging and enabling technologies that could support UK economic growth in the future.

Projects can be carried out in a range of areas including:

  • emerging technologies such as biofilms, energy harvesting, graphene and imaging
  • digital technologies
  • electronics sensors and photonics
  • robotics and autonomous systems
  • creative economy and design
  • space applications

The aim is to support technologies that have the potential to transform commercial markets or that could make a difference to UK economic growth across many different sectors.

Up to £15 million of the funding has been set aside for research and development projects. A further £10 million is for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

Competition information

  • the competition opens on 4 September 2017, and the deadline for applications is midday on 8 November 2017
  • research and development projects:
    • must involve at least one SME, working alone or in collaboration
    • must involve at least 2 partners working together if project costs are more than £100,000
    • can vary in size between £35,000 and £2 million and last between 3 months and 3 years
  • businesses can attract up to 70% of their total project costs
  • funding is available for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships, which link a business with an academic or research organisation and a qualified graduate
  • briefing events take place across the UK during September

Source:, 31st August 2017

UK government committed to maximising economic opportunity in North Sea

New Energy Minister Richard Harrington has told oil and gas leaders they have the ‘full support’ of the UK government.

New Energy Minister Richard Harrington has told oil and gas leaders they have the ‘full support’ of the UK government in maximising the economic opportunity in the North Sea during his first visit to the region in his new ministerial post.

The UK Energy Minister met and addressed oil and gas industry leaders at the Maximising Economic Recovery (MER) Forum and the Oil and Gas Joint Council as well as attending meetings on the Industrial Strategy’s role for supporting the sector and the prospect of Remote Islands Wind.

The minister also listened to proposals from industry for an ambitious and deliverable oil and gas sector deal under the Industrial Strategy.

UK Energy Minister Richard Harrington said:

These are challenging but exciting times with new opportunities in North Sea oil and gas.

We are working with the sector to build on the £2.3 billion worth of UK government support through our modern Industrial Strategy.

I want to make it clear that the industry has full support of the UK government, and that we are continuing to create the right environment though a stable and supportive package to allow business, enterprise and jobs to flourish.

Over the past 50 years the oil and gas industry has extracted more than 43 billion barrels and current production accounts for over 50% of UK gas demand and around 65% of UK oil demand.

With 10 to 20 billion barrels of oil yet to be recovered by 2035, an estimated £140 billion additional gross revenue from production, and an additional £150 billion turnover from exports could be achieved if the industry is able to make the most of maximising recovery and accessing the global market for oil and gas goods and services.

In June, the first delivery of oil was delivered from one of the largest new drilling operations in the North Sea, following a £2 billion investment in the Kraken oilfield by oil and gas development and production company EnQuest. This was made possible by the UK government’s support for the sector.

Last month the Oil and Gas Authority (OGA) opened its 30th Offshore Licensing Round, making awards to companies that promise to maximise economic recovery of the UK’s oil and gas resources. The number of applications shows continued support and belief in the UK oil industry.

This morning Total announced that it has started-up production from the Edradour and Glenlivet fields off Shetland. Delivered ahead of schedule and under budget these projects will bring additional production capacity of up to 56,000 barrels of oil and is further evidence of confidence in the industry.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, Lord Duncan said:

In my role as UK Government Minister for Scotland I will continue to fight to protect Scotland’s world class oil and gas industry. We’ve supported Aberdeen through £125 million investment in the City and Region Deal, which was key to setting up the innovative Oil and Gas Technology centre I saw today.

The oil and gas industry can rest assured that the UK government will continue to do everything we can to support this critical sector of the Scottish and British economy.

Andy Samuel, chief executive of the Oil and Gas Authority, said:

Today we held the MER UK Forum in Aberdeen and I very much value the continued close working with the oil and gas industry and strong support from the government. Together, this work is actively helping to maximise economic recovery and position the UK as an attractive basin to invest in, with significant remaining potential.

Deirdre Michie, Chief Executive of Oil and Gas UK, said:

I welcome the minister’s assurances that the industry has the full support of the UK government. The oil and gas industry has a critical role to play, helping meet the UK’s energy needs, generating revenue for the economy and supporting hundreds of thousands of UK jobs and other significant UK industries.

We look forward to working with the new energy minister to ensure that government policy like the Industrial Strategy and the UK Budget supports our own industry efforts to make the basin a competitive investment proposition.

While in Aberdeen the energy minister also met oil and gas apprentices and ex industry training instructors at the ASET International Oil and Gas Training Academy, a wholly-owned subsidiary company of North East Scotland College, and the Dynamic Advanced Response Training (DART) Simulator at Robert Gordon University.

Atholl Menzies, Chief Executive at ASET, said:

The ASET International Oil and Gas Training Academy plays a critical role in supporting the UK oil and gas sector through the skills development of personnel. We provide highly specialised oil and gas technical based vocational training, from new entrant to senior professional level and we train with market-leading technology and equipment including a live and integrated, replicated offshore production platform.

All of this will be brought together under the modern Industrial Strategy, and to ensure energy is as affordable as possible for consumers and businesses later this year the government will be publishing a road map to help businesses reduce their energy costs.

Source:,  30 August 2017


​Additive Manufacturing Workshop

25th and 26th October 2017 | AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre

Join the University of Sheffield’s Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in this two day introduction to Additive Manufacturing.

The workshops run from 10am – 4pm on the 25th and 26th October and both days must be attended.

Topics covered in the workshop will include:
• Product Design for Additive Manufacturing
• Metallurgy of Additive Manufacturing Components
• Quality & Standards
• Current Applications
• Practical Demonstrations
• IP, Skills & Training
• Funding Schemes

The workshop is aimed at small and medium sized enterprises who are currently using or contemplating using Additive Manufacturing and would like to learn more about its applications and gain hands on experience.

This event is run by the Sheffield Innovation Programme, giving businesses in the Sheffield city region access to university facilities and expert academics.

For more information and to register please click HERE

AMRC Forum: Opportunities and challenges in the automotive sector

28th September 2017 | AMRC Knowledge Transfer Centre

The automotive sector faces significant technological changes in the coming years such as:

  • Lightweighting
  • The increase in electric vehicles and the reduction in the demand for internal combustion engines
  • The development of connected autonomous vehicles (self-driving cars)
  • Digital manufacturing

These developments will have significant implications for manufacturing technologies and the supply chain.

The AMRC Forum will host industry experts as well as small and large companies who have embraced new technology to exploit opportunities.

Speakers from:

  • Ricardo
  • Jaguar Land Rover
  • Tinsley Bridge
  • SW Machines

For more information and to register please click HERE

Gripple chosen to help make Yorkshire the best place to do business

The Made in Yorkshire peer group chose the innovative Sheffield-based manufacturer, Gripple to hold its latest breakfast event for top executive members from the city’s manufacturing and engineering companies.

Forty guests first enjoyed a breakfast made only in Sheffield and after toured Gripple’s newly extended, high-tech Sheffield factory, nicknamed an ‘Industrial Catherdral’, complete with a fish tank and green wall. Then they heard why the company believes make it is a consistent success story and a Made in Yorkshire award winner for its export success two years ago.

Chrissie Gale, a Made in Yorkshire director, said: “We chose Gripple for this event to help our local MD and CEO membership grow their network and hear and see directly about an exceptional company owned by the employees, with a fun outlook on how to run a business – and why it’s working!”

Gripple is a totally employee-owned manufacturer of 50 million iconic wire fasteners a year, the vast majority of which sold to 80 countries. With its HQ also in Sheffield and bases in Chicago, Strasbourg and New Delhi and 500 employees, Gripple turned over £55 million last year, with 70 per cent of its supply chain in South Yorkshire.

Gripple’s special projects manager, Gordon Macrae, said: “It was great to attract so many local decision-makers who are passionate about Yorkshire to see what we believe is an exemplar business. I hope that some of the ideas and things they’ve seen and heard about today they will take back to their own businesses, and make Yorkshire the best place to do business.”

Photo caption: Made in Yorkshire visitors view the green wall and fish tank in Gripple’s newly extended Sheffield factory.

Gulf Tour to the UK 2017 – Leeds, 18th September 2018

The Gulf Tour to the UK is an annual event which will bring together representatives from the Department for International Trade (DIT) and business partners with a major presence in the Gulf to provide information and advice.

The programme will include panel discussions and presentations on setting up and doing business in the Gulf market, a networking lunch and 1-2-1 meetings (where possible) with DIT representatives and business partners.

The Gulf Tour to the UK will offer expert advice on a wealth of business opportunities in the Gulf countries of Kuwait, Qatar, Saudi Arabia and the United Arab Emirates.

The day will include panel discussions, presentations on doing business in the Gulf market, a networking lunch and 1-2-1 meetings (where possible). The event is ideal for businesses in Mass Transport, Construction, Energy, Healthcare, Education, ICT & Defence and Security sectors.

The event is open to UK companies in the following sectors that are interested in doing business in the Gulf: Mass Transport, Construction, Energy, Healthcare, Education, ICT & Defence and Security.

For more information and to register please click HERE

 Rail Alliance – Special Event, York, 18th August 2017

 Network Rail Infrastructure – Design for Reliability & Product Acceptance

Kevin Rayment CEng FIMechE, Reliability Process Manager, Network Rail

Date: Friday, 18th August, 2017, 9.00 am – 1.30pm
Location: Network Rail Network Operations, Floor 4A, George Stephenson House, Toft Green, York, YO1 6JT.

Following a successful seminar in London, Rail Alliance in partnership with Network Rail are pleased to present this essential knowledge to the Northern region.

A key function of its Product Acceptance regime, Design for Reliability is now a mandatory requirement for any controlled, fixed infrastructure product procured by Network Rail.

Kevin Rayment, together with NR’s Product Acceptance division will host a working seminar to explain what this means for the rail supply chain. Whether your company is an existing or a prospective supplier, awareness and adoption of the DFR process is essential – this is a mandated, structured procedure for how NR expects suppliers to demonstrate reliability using proven tools and will influence decisions made at PQQ and ITT stages of procurement. This will be an interactive discussion where concerns and questions will be openly addressed.


  • Design For Reliability – explanation of the concept and Network Rail’s rationale
  •  Whole Life Cost modelling
  •  FMEA’s: Learning from past experiences• Measurement equipment requirements
  •  Failure Trends• Maintenance schedule development
  •  The DFR process• Procedures for newly designed products vs. product changes
  •  Data capture, analysis and Corrective Action Plans

Hosted and partnered by Rail Alliance this event is free to attend, and is essential for any business with Network Rail as a current customer or in scope.

Admission is in limited number by Expression of Interest – BOOK HERE
Applications will be confirmed by return.


Small and medium-sized manufacturers increased output at the fastest rate in seven years, a new survey has found.

The CBI’s latest quarterly SME trends survey found new orders continued to rise at a strong pace in the three months to July 2017, with export order growth at its highest since April 2011.

Employment also increased and hiring intentions for the next three months is “solid”. However, the survey found that concerns about skilled labour shortages may limit output.

Alpesh Paleja, CBI principal economist, said: “It’s encouraging that activity among SME manufacturers has risen strongly over the past three months.

“Firms are clearly in an exporting sweet spot, able to exploit the competitiveness gains from a low exchange rate and a firm global backdrop.

“But the boost from a lower exchange rate will fade over time, so maintaining frictionless and tariff-free trade routes with the EU will be critical for future exporting success.”

The CBI’s report was compiled using the responses from 364 small manufacturing businesses.

Source: Storm Rannard, Insider Media, 2nd August 2017


A Sheffield-headquartered manufacturer and supplier of bedroom furniture has returned to profit and edged sales towards the £30m mark.

Home Décor was originally established as Acmetrack in 1975, before being acquired by The Stanley Works Inc in 1987 and sold seven years later.

At this time, it was renamed Home Décor GB and is today wholly owned by Cerberus Capital Management.

Its head office is in Sheffield, while the business also has a presence in Italy, the Netherlands, China, Australia and the US.

For the year to 31 December 2016, Home Décor reported turnover of £29.95m compared to £28.9m the previous 12 months.

The company also recovered from last year’s pre-tax loss of £512,610 by making a profit of £579,151.

Home Décor said it had enjoyed an increase in domestic sales through both its contract and direct-to-consumer channels, as well as a boost in European revenue. The return to profit was attributed to a reduction in direct costs and underlying overheads, as well as a rise in the sale of higher margin products.

For 2017, directors expect the company to “continue trading at comparable profit levels to the previous year”.

During the year end, the Sheffield company acquired Optiplan Kitchens and the Manor Cabinet Company in a move expected to create a group with turnover of £50m, employing about 350 staff across the UK.

At the time, Home Décor chief executive Max Crosby-Browne said: “This acquisition is a hugely exciting move for Home Decor and an important strategic step in achieving our growth plans.

“We will now have two distinct business units which together can offer customers a more integrated offering.  The three businesses are a great fit in terms of culture, product offering and market sectors.”

Source: Matthew Ord, Insider Media, 2nd August 2017


A joint venture business between Rolls-Royce and Unipart Group has become the latest member of the Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre in Sheffield.

MetLase, which was founded in 2015 as a joint venture between Rolls-Royce and Unipart Group, has joined the AMRC following a recent collaboration in which it developed a set of 14 fixtures for the assembly of complex parts.

Since its formation in 2015, MetLase has doubled in size and is growing rapidly.

The business is able to come up with engineering solutions to complex issues by using high precision laser-cutting technology, combined with patented assembly and joining systems.

MetLase will work as a partner on the Integrated Manufacturing Group (IMG) at the AMRC’s Factory 2050 facility, to develop “smart enabled tooling”.

James Illingworth, IMG theme lead in automated assembly, said: “Developing ‘smart’ fixturing, or fixturing that is intelligent by using sensors to collect data, provides valuable benefits for in-process control and monitoring, and improvements in part quality.

“The data collected can be used in real-time for process adjustment or later in the manufacturing process for review.”

Steve Dunn, managing director of MetLase, said: “We are pleased to join the AMRC, which has a global reputation as a centre of excellence for manufacturing research and innovative engineering.

“As partners on the Integrated Manufacturing Group, we can combine our expertise to develop our fixtures to interact with autonomous technologies such as those involved with robotic assembly.”

Source: Joshua Hammond, Insider Media, 1st August 2017