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Edge Hill University’s Innovation Sprint Programme, a key initiative within the Productivity & Innovation Centre (PIC), has been successfully extended until 2023 through renewed support from Lancashire LEP and MHCLG. The Programme has been successfully delivering product and service innovation support to SMEs since 2017, improving their productivity and driving profitable growth.

As businesses across the region are recovering from the effects of Covid and building their resilience strategies, there has never been a greater need to continue to support SMEs with developing their innovation practices and tackling their scale-up challenges.

The new phase of the Programme will pivot efforts to focus on supporting scale-up potential SMEs to increase their competitiveness in domestic and international markets and the level of resilience in their business model.  The Programme will now also include additional new elements of support on productivity, workforce development, and technology adoption.

The Programme will maintain its core data-driven (evidence based) innovation methodology, which helps SMEs manage the uncertainty and risk involved in developing a scale-up or growth strategy. Productivity, customer and market insights revealed during the Programme will also help drive new business model innovation.  The team will support the SMEs to develop solutions which improve their core business processes, maximise the use of business technologies, and re-define internal organisational structures, job roles and responsibilities.

Since 2017, Professor of Innovation, Simon Bolton has led the team of business experts who have delivered the highly regarded Programme to over 100 Lancashire based SMEs.

The impact on SMEs from across the county who have engaged in the fully-funded Programme to date has been immense.  On average the growth achieved has been 29%, and over 40 new products or services have been implemented.

Tony Garner, Managing Director at Viva PR attended the programme in 2018 stated, The Programme was a complete revelation. It gave us the time and the tools to completely re-focus our business, so we can offer a transparent service to our clients that is results focussed. Of course, it hasn’t been without its challenges — change can be tough — but the framework and action plan that has been created from it provided us with a clarity of purpose. The whole leadership team attended the Programme and its impact has been truly transformational.”

Viva PR achieved an increase in revenue of 38% and 11 new clients shortly after completing the programme.

The Faculty’s E3i Team have welcomed the news and are relishing the opportunity to reach more regional SMEs. Faculty Business Development Manager, Michael Banford said, “The impact of the Programme and the feedback from participants and stakeholders over the last three years has been fantastic. This continued opportunity to deliver real economic impact through the knowledge and expertise within the University is something we will take full advantage of. These meaningful partnerships formed with the SMEs also deliver excellent benefits for our students and research base. This continuation is a real endorsement of the work of the whole team and the commitment of the SMEs to drive their strategies forward.”

The project is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund. The new phase of the fully-funded project commences December 2020 and will continue through to June 2023.

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