LEP showcases success of Access Innovation programme with European partners

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) has been sharing successes and best practice from the Access Innovation programme with European partners as part of the SMARTY interregional cooperation project.

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) has been sharing successes and best practice from the Access Innovation programme with European partners as part of the SMARTY interregional cooperation project.

The first thematic seminar of the four-year SMARTY project, held in Leuven, Belgium, offered an opportunity for the LEP to showcase the successes from the Access Innovation programme. With funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Local Growth Fund, Access Innovation is a package of support available for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop new projects and processes including funding to access specialist expertise by teaming up with a relevant research organisation or innovation specialists.

The LEP shared how collaborative discussions with innovation partners has been valuable to SMEs in the region resulting in innovative product development across different industry 4.0 technologies. The Access Innovation programme has seen significant success since its implementation by engaging with over 700 SMEs including supporting 228 with specialist advice and investing £1.9m into 62 projects particularly in the manufacturing sector.

Throughout the seminar, a representative from the LEP heard about successes and best practice approaches in other European regions that will be useful in informing future Leeds City Region programmes. During the next phases of the SMARTY project, the LEP will be developing an action plan to outline how it will transfer some of the best practice shared during the seminar. This will be discussed at the next meeting of the Leeds City Region Made Smarter Board and the LEP’s Business, Innovation and Growth Panel.

The seminar also offered the opportunity for the LEP to preview the successor programme, Connecting Innovation which will be launched in April 2020. Connecting Innovation will build upon the successes and challenges of Access Innovation by proposing a dedicated and specialist innovation support and brokerage service that coordinates, simplifies, promotes and communicates the innovation landscape to SMEs in the City Region.

Andrew Wright, Chair of the Leeds City Region Business, Innovation and Growth Panel and Non-Executive Chairman of AW Hainsworth, said: “We know that successful regions are those that create a culture of innovation that enables SMEs, larger firms, entrepreneurs and institutions to create, accelerate, champion and retain innovation. We want Leeds City Region to have the strongest innovation ecosystem in the UK.

“Participating in interregional cooperation projects like SMARTY allows us to highlight the innovative strengths in Leeds City Region and learn best practice from partners to unlock potential and encourage innovation, research and development to boost productivity.”

 

SMARTY is co-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) under the umbrella of the European Union programme Interreg Europe with around 1.99 M EUR ERDF (2.42 M EUR Total Budget). It runs over a period of four years and started on 1st of August, 2019.