LEP works with European partners to support SMEs as region recovers from COVID-19

The LEP participated in a virtual roundtable with European partners as part of the Interreg Europe SMARTY project.

23 July 2020

The Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (the LEP) participated in a virtual roundtable with European partners as part of the Interreg Europe SMARTY project to exchange experiences on supporting Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to use technology to increase competitiveness and to adapt to economic changes in a post-COVID-19 economy.   

The first Interregional Policy Brokerage event offered the opportunity for the LEP to share and learn about best practices with European partners on initiatives to help SMEs to adopt  Industry 4.0 solutions to increase competitiveness while sharing the successes of the LEP’s Access Innovation programme, which was selected by partners on the project as a particular example of European best practice 

The Access Innovation programme is a package of support for SMEs to develop new projects and processes, including funding to access specialist expertise by teaming up with a relevant research organisation or innovation specialists. Access Innovation has paid 69 grants to firms, totalling £1.28 million and supported over 160 businesses.  

Academic and industry partners from the Leeds City Region Made Smarter Board also participated in the virtual meeting, giving them the opportunity to engage with European partners to better understand ways to support local SMEs to become more resilient and flexible and to adapt to economic changes, particularly as the region begins to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Andrew Wright, Chair of the Leeds City Region Business, Innovation and Growth Panel and Non-Executive Chairman of AW Hainsworth, said: The opportunity to participate in projects like SMARTY allows us to engage, share and learn from our European partners which is fundamental to ensuring we are fully supporting SMEs and creating an environment where they can develop, innovate and compete.  

As we look towards the economic recovery from the COVID-19 pandemic, it will be more important than ever to have the right tools and learn from best practices to support local SMEs so they can thrive in the region and in turn, increase competitiveness and create good jobs.”  

The Leeds City Region Made Smarter Board is a group of partners from across Leeds City Region brought together to find solutions to improve the adoption and implementation of industrial digital technologies to increase productivity and business performance. The Board will be meeting on 17 September 2020 to discuss how to put into practice some of the policy solutions discussed during the SMARTY interregional policy brokerage event.