The University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance are delivering the Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) Programme, providing support towards the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands region.
Aerospace UP is a three-year programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, which aims to help small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) unlock their innovation potential.
This support package includes £5.4m to provide individual innovation grants which is between £1,000 and £100,000. The grant application process is currently open for new submissions from SMEs across eight Local Enterprise Partnership Areas within the Midlands.
In addition to financial grants, companies entitled to the Aerospace UP programme can access world-class facilities, technology experts and events at the University. They will also take advantage of fully-funded technical support packages as well as student and graduate placement opportunities.
Professor Pat Wheeler, from the Institute for Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham, said: “Our vision is to give companies access to world-class innovation. Ambition should not be limited to size and by giving small enterprises across the aerospace supply chain access to the UK’s best facilities and expertise, and also the opportunity to collaborate and share challenges, we'll help create a vibrant ecosystem in our region that will be perfectly placed to reply to new opportunities.”
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and data Exchange said: “The Aerospace Unlocking Potential project builds on the University’s existing use companies in the local aerospace supply chain they are driving technological advancement towards cleaner, greener airline travel. The project will provide much-welcomed support towards the regional industry cluster in the wake of the pandemic and ensure the UK remains a key player in European aerospace innovation.”
It is hoped that by assisting small logistics businesses to grow, by providing the tools and support needed to do so, the programme will form a vital part of the recovery of the Midlands aerospace cluster, that is one of the largest in the world and greatly influenced by the pandemic.
Dr Andrew Mair, Leader of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance, said: “This is a programme that meets a real need and fills a real gap in the UK’s Industrial Strategy to boost levels of innovation at the many firms that make up our country’s excellent regional business clusters. Using the Covid-19 crisis creating major challenges for a lot of aerospace suppliers today, Aerospace UP grants as high as £100,000 will help companies invest in new ideas and become more competitive to be ready to take full advantage, winning new business, when the industry recovers.”
Companies don't have to have a particular project in mind to make an application, as the Aerospace UP team can help with identifying opportunities. However, it might be useful to consider ideas around greener technologies; improving efficiency; evolving in anticipation of future market requirements; solving quality or delivery issues along with other manufacturing challenges.