Keele University's fully-funded programmes help local SMEs innovate, recover and grow

Businesses across Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire are being given a boost in their post-pandemic recovery, thanks to support from Keele University’s fully-funded support programmes.

The Smart Innovation Hub*, based on the University’s Science and Innovation Park, is providing local companies with a range of funded support programmes and workspace opportunities that are perfectly suited to help them recover, grow and thrive in the uncertain economic climate.

Housed at the University’s entrance, within the striking Denise Coates Foundation Building and co-located alongside Keele Business School, the facility provides a unique opportunity for businesses and entrepreneurs to grow their enterprises through collaboration with academics, students and peers.

Three specialist support programmes are delivered through the Smart Innovation Hub, and are fully-funded to eligible local SMEs:

  • The Innovation Leadership Programme - A prestigious innovation leadership programme to help businesses to recalibrate to the new normal. It addresses distinctive organisational and leadership challenges for innovation-led, knowledge-intensive businesses.
  • Research and Innovation Support Programme – Amidst a time of change, this support programme is designed to help businesses that are thinking about, or are currently in the process of, developing a new product, process or service.
  • The New Enterprise Base Camp – Designed to support innovative and ambitious entrepreneurs and business owners that are in the early stages of their business life cycle.

These programmes form a strand of the larger wealth of assistance on offer via Keele Gateway and the recently launched Keele Deal | Recovery, which aims to accelerate the area towards a more resilient and knowledge-led economy, with university-business collaborations and student and academic support systems.

Community interest company Mondrem took up workspace in the Smart Innovation Hub in 2019 and have since seen a number of growth areas despite the pandemic, utilising the Innovation Leadership Programme, the Research and Innovation Support programme and hiring a total of ten Keele interns, five of which are now in full-time employment with the company.

Nick Gostick, Director of Smart Innovation Hub, commented: “The pandemic has been a challenging time for everyone, especially early-stage businesses and SMEs. Since opening in 2019, the Hub has been designed as a space that encourages collaboration and innovation for all, and particularly now following the impact of Covid-19, we have realigned our programmes and office space to provide opportunities for SMEs in the area to recover and grow.”

Laundry services Iron Maidens faced a difficult 2020 with many of their core markets being closed due to the pandemic. Turning to the Research and Innovation Support programme helped the company develop new ideas and pivot the business, developing a new order tracking app for their customers.

Managing Director, Sharon Bridgett said: “We were able to push forward with the Keele Research and Innovation Support Programme during the lockdown and we are now able to offer a more efficient service. The app has already added much value to our business with some great feedback and it will help us to expand our client base”.

For more information and to contact us about the Smart Innovation Hub and its fully-funded programmes and office space opportunities, visit www.keele.ac.uk/smartinnovationhub.


SIH Funder logo The Keele University Science and Innovation Park Smart Innovation Hub (Ref: 32R17P01691) / Innovation Centre 6, located within the Denise Coates Foundation Building, has been part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund as part of the England Growth Programme 2014-2020, the Midlands Engine and Staffordshire County Council with support from the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire Local Enterprise Partnership.