WMG at the University of Warwick recently celebrated the completion of an ERDF funded programme at the International Institute for Product and Service Innovation. During the programme 1,400 West Midlands SMEs received support; with 207 projects completed, resulting in 200 jobs being either safeguarded or created in the region.
But it wasn’t just a matter of helping existing SMEs, as the project also created four brand new innovation-driven businesses, and generated additional revenue for WMG to continue to support SMEs in further research with the institution.
One company to benefit from the scheme was Autins Group who, after initially attending a digital marketing workshop, worked with WMG to develop a novel material from their factory waste and turned this into a new product line. Jim Griffin, Chairman at Autins Group said: “SMEs across the UK should make the most of the support offered by academic institutions to help them innovate and grow; it has certainly worked for us!”
The programme also supported other manufacturers in the region including Pashley Cycles, Barton Coldform Ltd, and the Midlands Assembly Network (MAN) group of companies.
Alongside the funded SME support programme, WMG delivered the first running of its Innovative Business Leadership education programme. Taken part-time over a year, it was designed specifically with the needs of SMEs in mind.
Mark Stephenson, Operations Director of Black Pepper Software Ltd, said: “It gives you another way of looking at your own business, and applying tools and techniques that you may not have thought about before. Being able to take that learning and bring it back into the business and apply it to what we do has been very, very useful.”
A second running of the IBL programme will start in October, and WMG’s SME Team will continue to offer support to SMEs and will maintain a technology showcase space for SMEs to ensure the long term economic success of the region.