EU Funding. Funding - 10 July 2019

£7.1million programme to boost firms’ productivity through innovation

A £7.1million programme to help small and medium-sized firms’ boost their productivity – half-funded by the D2N2 Local Enterprise Partnership – is now open.

 ‘Productivity Through Innovation’ is a programme run by the University of DerbyNottingham Trent University and the University of Nottingham; to provide up to 181 SMEs in Nottinghamshire and Derbyshire with help to improve their productivity, over a three year period (until March 2022).

Productivity measures the output (goods or services) generated by a business’s activities; against the input it puts into its processes (which includes staff time, energy use, raw materials, etc). The UK lags behind other European countries in productivity and it is also a concern regionally.

Through the ‘Productivity Through Innovation’ funding the three universities’ knowledge, skills and technology will be made available free to SME firms in the D2N2 LEP area. Firms’ challenges will be addressed through innovation support (including postgraduate and undergraduate placements), management and leadership workshops; and academic support designed to help businesses innovate and explore new ideas.

For example, a manufacturing company which discovered how to make more or better products with fewer materials, using less employee time or reduced energy needs could improve its productivity levels.

Half the Programme’s funding comes via European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) money allocated to D2N2, itself part of the LEP’s wider €250million in European Structural and Investment Funds (ESIF). The three universities will invest £1.5m each in the programme.

D2N2 is the private sector-led Local Enterprise Partnership of business, local authorities, skills and training providers, and community and voluntary services representatives which promotes economic growth across Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire.

Professor Chris Gerada – Associate Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Industrial Strategy, Business Engagement and Impact, at the University of Nottingham – said, “This programme represents an exciting opportunity for businesses to tap into the high-level skills available at the three universities and to examine their businesses and how innovation and support can help enhance productivity.

“It builds upon our very successful and established Postgraduate Placement Scheme which has just delivered its 1,000th placement which have largely been delivered with local SMEs in the East Midlands.”

Professor Warren Manning – Pro Vice-Chancellor Innovation and Dean of the College of Engineering and Technology at the University of Derby – added: “This major investment shows the commitment of the three universities in the D2N2 region to engage with and support small and medium sized companies who are the cornerstone of the UK economy.

“This new programme will allow us to work intensively with local companies supporting them to become more productive. The project will grow long-term relationships between academia and industry with benefits in terms of employment opportunities and economic growth for the region”.

Nigel Wright – Deputy Vice Chancellor, Research and Innovation at Nottingham Trent University –said: “This is a really exciting opportunity to meet with new businesses and support their ideas for innovation. It is our hope and intention that many of these companies will start an ongoing relationship with the university that could provide interesting opportunities for knowledge exchange, graduate employment and experiential teaching and learning while also supporting local economic growth.”

Further information about the ‘Productivity Through Innovation’ programme can be found by CLICKING HERE

The D2N2 LEP has previously produced independent research on enhancing productivity in its area – see link HERE – and will be focusing on this in its Local Industrial Strategy (LIS), due to be published early next year (2020) and for which evidence is now being gathered. For more on the LIS see the D2N2 website at

Media wanting more information about the D2N2 LEP can contact Sean Kirby, D2N2 Communications Manager, on 0115 9578749 or email:

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