It starts with a conversation: tailored innovation support

Our Innovation Growth Managers can help SME business owners to gain a better understanding of what their business needs to realise their innovation idea and how to access the right support.

Innovation is about commercialising new ideas, thinking differently and finding solutions. At the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP) we are here to help businesses with those ideas, to harness the opportunities and work together to nurture innovation in the Leeds City Region.

With the wide range of support and resources available to help your business progress, grow and thrive, how do you know what you need to take your innovation from an idea to a commercial opportunity? How clear are you on the next step?

If you’re a small to medium sized business wanting to innovate in the region, it can be an overwhelming space to navigate what you need and how to access it. Whether you have an idea for a new product, process or service, are already prototyping but seek specialist expertise, or haven’t considered how commercial your idea even is, there are a number of organisations and people ready to help.

Help can come in the form of funding, research support, advisory services, training and upskilling, sector expertise and many other types of specialist support.

The Connecting Innovation programme from the LEP is designed to help businesses in the region to navigate this support and understand what’s available.

Your sounding board

Our team of Innovation Growth Managers (IGMs) work with you and act as a sounding board to validate, understand and identify what your business needs, so they can provide access to the variety of expertise available for businesses in the Leeds City Region. They are your trusted advisor who can block out the noise and spotlight what support is relevant for you.

As an independent broker, an Innovation Growth Manager’s role is to establish the real requirements to support your innovation, to direct you to tailored support and connect you with the right people in whatever capacity your business needs to move your innovation project forward. This may develop into a referral into the Connecting Innovation programme or signpost a relevant innovation provider.

Identifying the real needs

Being so close to the planning, development and progression of an idea it can challenging to always see things objectively and take that step back. Having the help of an Innovation Growth Manager means they can look at your business holistically and advise on the best support to match your needs.

An initial conversation can give you the clarity and understanding of the best approach to move forward in relation to the stage you are at.

Strengthening relationships

The ongoing support and encouragement from your Innovation Growth Manager will help to keep your project on track, giving you full ownership to make the decisions for what is right for you and your business.

This was very much the case with founder and owner of Ascentys Ltd., Dr Sayed Kazmi. The company is a digital health start-up developing ground-breaking rehabilitative videogame-based technologies for children's depression and Alzheimer's Disease.

After contacting the LEP and working with one of our Innovation Growth Managers, Dr Kazmi has been able to access the support he needed through the Connecting Innovation programme, as well as referrals into Innovate UK EDGE and additional expertise for funding applications.

Dr Kazmi said: “Coming from an academic and technology research background, we were struggling with the fundamentals of running a business rather than a games-based research company.

“Creating a credible yet effective business plan, identifying capable local collaborative partners in the digital health space and finding the all-important local funding mechanisms were absolutely critical to sustain and further develop our company. All of these remained largely elusive or misunderstood by us, until we worked with the LEP.

“Nick Henderson, who I now regard as more of a friend than an Innovation Growth Manager, has consistently been highly approachable, knowledgeable and genuinely helpful. He has proactively taken a great deal of time to carefully listen, understand and more importantly, appreciate the problems we’ve faced as a developing company. He continues to provide much needed, helpful and effective advice and support to reach a genuine resolution that actually works.

“The biggest benefit of working with the Connecting Innovation programme has been allowing us as a company to develop and refine our ideas, technology and potential, in order to positively thrive as a high growth business.”

How can the LEP support your innovation journey?

There’s no one size fits all approach and that’s why our innovation team exist, to make sure you have the right support for your business needs.

To hear more about how we can help you, contact the innovation team at ConnectingInnovation@the-lep.com. For any other business support enquiries email BusinessSupport@the-lep.com or call 0113 348 1818.

Connecting Innovation is delivered by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund.

“The biggest benefit of working with the Connecting Innovation programme has been allowing us as a company to develop and refine our ideas, technology and potential, in order to positively thrive as a high growth business.” Dr Sayed Kazmi, founder and owner of Ascentys Ltd.