Are you wanting to do something different in your business but not sure how to get there? Our team of Innovation Growth Managers can help you identify and access the right support to make it a reality.

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Connecting Innovation

Our independent and specialist innovation programme, Connecting Innovation, is one way for businesses to navigate what innovation support is available.

Connecting Innovation can help SMEs to access funding or grants to support projects, including:

  • Kickstart Innovation Fund: LEP funding for collaborative innovation projects of up to £24,999
  • Advice about local, regional or national innovation grants

Through Connecting Innovation, SMEs could be eligible for up to 12 hours of support (or more if required) with an Innovation Growth Manager, helping to:

  • Implement innovative practices or processes into your business
  • Access specialist expertise from the network of universities, catapult centres (not-for-profit, independent technology and innovation centres), research organisations, advisory services and private sector organisations
  • Provide ongoing one-to-one support to help make your project a success, through to implementation

Get in touch to see how we can help you on your journey. Connecting Innovation is delivered by the LEP in partnership with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund for England and the Local Growth Fund.

Read Connecting Innovation's privacy notice about how your information is used.

Watch our animation

Our animation explains how our innovation team can help you and your business realise your innovation idea. There is no one size fits all when it comes to innovating. Our team of Innovation Growth Managers work with you to gain a better understanding of what your business needs to realise your innovation idea and help you access the right support to make it happen.

Innovation Growth Managers

Cat Smith

Cat has spent her entire career working to support businesses. Previously she worked for Calderdale College as a Relationship Manager, managing funding for Skills Support. She then moved onto the Construction Industry Training Board where she worked as a Business Advisor, before moving into her role with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority as an Innovation Growth Manager.

Working with businesses, helping them to succeed and the variety of projects she gets involved in is what makes Cat most happy. She thrives on the opportunity to make ideas a reality and lists listening as one of her most key skills. Cat was heavily involved in the West Yorkshire Innovation Festival and is extremely proud of that success.

A random fact about Cat is that she used to be an Irish Dancer – she blames her Irish Nana for that!


Mobile: 07929 828731

Nick Henderson

Before taking up his role as Innovation Growth Manager, Nick worked in sales and account management in the private sector. In his current role, Nick thrives on making a difference, genuinely helping to drive businesses forward, and contributing to the overall growth and success of the region’s economy. One of the most unique projects Nick was very proud to be a part of was an innovative solution to diagnose cancer earlier and more accurately.

Nick lists two of his skills as being the most important. Empathy - really being able to understand an individual and their business challenges and requirements and providing a solution which is the specific tailored support. Knowledge – understanding the support landscape, to know the most appropriate and best suited support. 

Nick was quite the sportsman when he was younger and represented his county in five separate sports, as well as coming 4th in the 800 metre age group AAA championship.


Mobile: 0777 996 5845

Does your business need help with a new product, process or service?

Our team of Innovation Growth Managers work with you to help you access the right support. Download our leaflet for more information.

Any business that wants to make positive change through new ideas and new ways of doing things, or has a forward-thinking approach to their work, is innovating. Innovation is crucial to building sustainable businesses in our City Region – it is a source of competitive advantage, it creates efficiencies, increases revenues and improves productivity.

The COVID-19 pandemic has highlighted the importance of businesses doing things differently; having the agility to become more resilient, flexible and reactive to the economic changes and new ways of working.

If you’re an SME in Leeds City Region looking to develop a new product, have an idea for a new service or can see ways to improve your processes, yet feel unsure about the next steps or how to make it happen, we are here to help.

Our ambition at the LEP, as part of the West Yorkshire Innovation Network, is to create an inclusive and collaborative environment for innovation to thrive in our City Region, connecting businesses with the right support to make their ideas or projects become a reality.

Ideas come through collaboration and the LEP’s innovation support programme provides funding for SMEs as well as connecting them with the right people, helping businesses through the ecosystem of innovation resources. Our team of Innovation Growth Managers are your brokers, coordinating your specific needs with relevant support.

Inclusive growth

As part of the LEP’s commitment to delivering inclusive growth that benefits everyone, we have introduced new measures to encourage businesses to maximise their positive impact on the region.

If you receive a grant of £25,000 or over, you will be expected to make additional inclusive growth commitments. There are lots of different ways businesses can get on board, from volunteering in a local school to becoming a real Living Wage employer.

Additionally, businesses receiving a grant of less than £25,000 are encouraged to volunteer to undertake an inclusive growth commitment.

The LEP and its network of partners can help businesses to access several products and services that will help them to take these positive actions. Initial guidance and advice on these commitments are available here.

All things Innovation

  1. Tracy Brabin At Space Hub Yorkshire

    Space Hub Yorkshire

    The LEP and Yorkshire Universities are leading on the development of a Space Cluster, called Space Hub Yorkshire, through a new programme funded by the Government and backed by the UK Space Agency.

    Read more about Space Hub Yorkshire
  2. West Yorkshire Innovation Network

    West Yorkshire Innovation Network

    The West Yorkshire Innovation Network (WYIN) is coordinated by the Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership in partnership with the Combined Authority, and its aim is to create a collective place to help businesses access support, encourage and nurture innovative ideas and position the region as a hub for innovation.

    Read more about West Yorkshire Innovation Network
  3. Kickstart Innovation Fund

    Kickstart Innovation Fund

    Kickstart Innovation Fund helps SMEs to get going with their innovation idea by providing finance to access third-party expertise needed to progress their idea to the next stage.

    Read more about Kickstart Innovation Fund
  4. Business meeting

    High-Impact Innovation Fund

    The High-Impact Innovation Fund specifically helps SMEs who can demonstrate industry leading innovation that addresses key strategic opportunities around but not limited to Industrial Digitalisation, Health Technology and Greener Economy. Applications close 6 January 2022

    Read more about High-Impact Innovation Fund

West Yorkshire Innovation Festival 2021

The West Yorkshire Innovation Festival was created to inspire, encourage and support innovation for businesses in the Leeds City Region. Our 2022 festival is coming this October - more details soon. Visit the festival website to see all the goings on from last year's festival.

Innovation News

  1. Characteristics of an innovative business

    When it comes to innovation – developing new ideas, creating commercial opportunities or doing things differently – there are often characteristics that individuals possess or businesses build, to aid and support the innovation process. Read our round up of what to instil in an innovative business.

    Read more about Characteristics of an innovative business