Keele University extends healthcare business support programme

A revolutionary new programme led by Keele University supporting high growth local companies to enter new national and global healthcare markets has today launched its second phase, after receiving more than £1m of additional funding.

Keele University’s Business Bridge* programme, which has already supported 35 local businesses in creating, developing and getting new healthcare-related products and services to market in its first phase, has received funding from the European Regional Development Fund that will enable the project to support a further 39 businesses between January 2019 and December 2021.

Through the programme, businesses are supported by academics and professionals from Keele University with sector-relevant experience, as well as clinical and non-clinical staff within the local NHS and industry experts from specialist companies across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire.

The programme offers businesses fully-funded innovation vouchers worth up to £7,000 each, as well as opportunities to collaborate with Keele academics on specific development projects that will enhance the business and its products and services.

Speaking about the programme, Dr Amy Farrington, Head of Partnership Development and IP Commercialisation for health at Keele University, said: “By facilitating collaborations between enterprise, academia and healthcare, Business Bridge enables local companies to find solutions to the health-related issues facing society both now and in the future.

“Through the programme, we’re able to provide businesses with expert advice and potential collaborative partners that they may not have been able to access otherwise, therefore increasing the speed, scope and success of their development.

“By working with local specialist companies and our strategic partners – University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust, the West Midlands Academic Health Science Network and Staffordshire Chambers of Commerce – the programme not only gives local businesses a competitive advantage by providing easy access to industry, academic and clinical experts, but can also bring significant benefits to the local economy and health of the local population.”

Building upon the success of Business Bridge, Keele University has recently established a new regional forum for companies in all sectors looking to grow their business and make new contacts in the healthcare and medical supply chain. Launched in June 2018, the Healthcare Business Network forms part of the Business Bridge programme’s legacy and has already led to a number of collaborative projects between its members.

The Business Bridge programme is a key priority within the New Keele Deal – a plan for £70m investment by Keele University, in partnership with Staffordshire County Council, Stoke-on-Trent City Council, Newcastle-under-Lyme Borough Council, University Hospitals of North Midlands NHS Trust and the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership, to exploit the potential of the University’s world-leading research and facilities, resulting in a significant number of higher value jobs being created locally over the next 20 years.

More information about the Business Bridge programme, and Keele University’s wider range of business support initiatives, is available online at

*The Business Bridge programme (ref: 32R18P02530) is part-funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the England 2014 to 2020 European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF) Growth Programme.