CPI, an independent technology centre, has announced the launch of a programme aiming to support small- to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in a wide range of sectors in the North East of England. The UK European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) has committed maximum funding in the region of £1.4m (US$1.9m).
The so-called PROSPECT programme will offer process and product development to fast-track the introduction of new products to the market that are for the health and personal care, consumer goods, chemicals, materials, and food and drinks sectors. This should enable SMEs to avoid an otherwise lengthy and underfunded journey. The support will be provided to SMEs with less than 250 staff members, and an annual turnover below €50m (US$60.6m).
SMEs will be given access to a suite of equipment and knowledge at North East Technology Park (NETpark) in Sedgefield, County Durham, that should significantly speed up product and process development. This includes scientists as well as liquid mixing test rigs, scaleup facilities, complex powder processing facilities, and a stability testing rig.
PROSPECT’s support is intended to enhance prototyping, scaleup, and applications of technology. The programme will provide expert services that are expected to help overcome technical and financial barriers, enabling these regional sectors to compete in the international market, and driving economic growth in the North East.
Using funding and equipment provided by ERDF, CPI will also be able to provide relevant business expertise, in-depth understanding, and tailored advice to accelerate product performance, manufacturability, and thus commercialisation.
On 28 January, there will be an online launch event for PROSPECT, with the programme set to run until November 2022.
Tony Jackson, Formulation Director at CPI, said: “The PROSPECT programme will provide some of the country’s most inventive SMEs with the crucial funding, expertise and equipment to develop their innovative products. I am looking forward to seeing how this programme can unlock the bright potential of SMEs, in the North East, over the coming years.”
The funding from ERDF came as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014–2020, which is funding projects till the end of 2023.
According to the UK Government, under the EU-UK Withdrawal Agreement the country will continue to participate in programmes funded under the 2014–2020 multiannual financial framework (MFF). The Withdrawal Agreement establishes the terms of the UK’s withdrawal from the EU. As a result of the terms, the majority of programmes will receive EU funding throughout their lifetime. It adds that in many cases, funding will continue after 2020 and the end of the transition period. Additionally, UK organisations can continue to bid for new funding under the 2014–2020 MFF.
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