A successful innovation programme led by the city’s two universities and SCR Growth Hub has supported a milestone 400 projects with regional businesses helping them to innovate and bring new products and services to market
The Sheffield Innovation Programme was set up in 2016 to support small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) from across the region to access academic expertise, facilities and resources at both the University of Sheffield and Sheffield Hallam University to stimulate innovation and growth.
The programme has now reached a milestone of 400 projects with regional SMEs, enabling them to grow, diversify and meet changing customer needs.
Key areas of support include innovative structural packaging and product design; materials engineering, manufacturing and digital technologies; computer software, cybersecurity, sports science and engineering; food engineering and sustainability; and energy solutions.
Some of the innovative projects supported since SIP launched include:
- Experts in Sheffield Hallam’s National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering working with iconic Sheffield brand Henderson’s Relish supporting them to export their product by developing new technical specifications for their recipe.
- Energy experts helping local business Dext Heat Recovery, who work with restaurant chains including Nando’s and Frankie and Benny’s, to develop a product that recycles waste heat from industrial kitchens – reducing energy costs and environmental impact.
- Academics in Sheffield Hallam’s Materials and Engineering Research Institute helping Sheffield-based Safety Fabrications to design a roof anchoring system to support maintenance on tall buildings that meets British Standards specifications.
- A prototype of a digital foot rocker with supporting app which will assist to stimulate leg exercise, increase circulation and improve the health of those who are seated for long periods is in development by Active Legs and multidisciplinary engineering experts from the University of Sheffield.
- Senior researchers from the University of Sheffield’s School of Education are collaborating with user research and design studio Paper to explore how deaf people perceive suspense in films as an under-researched and under-represented group. The project aims to form a basis for informing future interaction with deaf people, both in terms of films and conducting research.
- The University of Sheffield’s Grantham Centre for Sustainable Futures is working with shoe manufacturer Goral to drive sustainability in shoe manufacture by identifying environmentally sound ways to utilise leather that would otherwise be wasted from manufacture.
Alex Prince, Head of Knowledge Exchange and Innovation, at Sheffield Hallam University, said: “Sheffield Innovation Programme is a superb example of how the universities can work to support innovation and growth for Sheffield City Region’s businesses. Sheffield Hallam is very proud of the work we have undertaken with the 400 projects to date, and the partnership really demonstrates our continued commitment to the future prosperity of the region as highlighted in our Civic University Agreement.”
Yasmin Knight, Assistant Director, Partnerships & Regional Engagement and Head of Regional Engagement at University of Sheffield, said: “Celebrating the 400th Sheffield Innovation Programme project is a significant milestone. The University of Sheffield is proud to be part of SIP and to have worked with so many really innovative regional companies.
“SIP is a great demonstrator of the University’s Made Together programme: working together with partners to enable our breadth of academic expertise to drive regional productivity and economic growth, and support innovative projects that develop the region’s sustainability, health and cultural offer.”
The Sheffield Innovation Programme is jointly funded by both universities, South Yorkshire Mayoral Combined Authority, the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and the Higher Education Innovation Fund (HEIF), providing support at zero-cost to businesses and continues to run until June 2023, with a target to add a further 100 projects to the total.
The range of free support includes bespoke research and innovation-based consultancy, workshops and other events.
Alexis Krachai, Executive Director at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce said: “The Sheffield City Region is a great place to start and grow a business, with a thriving SME population of over 52,000.
“The Sheffield Innovation Programme is an incredible service for those businesses to be able to utilise to help them innovate, grow and transform their business.
“To be able to access world-class facilities and expertise on their doorstep and receive bespoke research and development support at no cost to the business is truly remarkable.
“As Covid-19 continues to present our region and nation with some immense challenges, programmes like this can play a key role in supporting the economic recovery of the region and ensuring our region’s SMEs are prepared for the future.”