The short answer is, YES! I recently attended an event at the University of Birmingham, detailing a wide range of support for businesses, much of which is relevant to the Black Country. One of the speakers featured at the event quoted a Government-funded study which shows that businesses who engage with publicly-funded support grow faster than those who don’t.
This got me thinking, as there is so much business support information available, putting it all into one place (such as a website) could be seen as counter-productive if it became overwhelming.
However, people in business now don’t have to do this sifting – it is now the main the role of Growth Hubs, since they began a few years ago. Although, good signposting is not as easy as it sounds; it relies on a thorough awareness of the totality of support activity and awareness of the business sector. It also requires an in-depth conversation with the key individuals in a business to understand the “unknown knowns”, as well as building good rapport and trust and avoiding wild goose chases.
Currently, there are changes underway at the Black Country Growth Hub to enable us to offer that kind of in-depth knowledge and to enable us to have the capacity to talk to you and pick out exactly what’s relevant. Reading about specific business support often sparks the imagination or sets off a train of thought, which may not have happened within a more generic conversation about support.
First up was the Quantum Technology Hub, led by the University of Birmingham, the Hub in Sensors and Metrology brings together expertise in physics and engineering from the Universities across the UK with over 70 industry partners.
Sensors can be found in our everyday lives, from smartphones and cars to industrial applications in manufacturing, engineering and imaging. These sensors will transform the ways in which we are able to view infrastructure, the human brain, the ground below the railway lines and so much more.
The Hub’s teams are working to transform laboratory-based research into technology. They are developing smaller, cheaper, more accurate and energy efficient components and systems to build and sustain a supply chain which will have a potentially transformative impact across business and society as a whole.
Next, we heard from the National Physical Laboratory – the UK’s National Measurement Institute. It’s a world-leading centre of excellence in developing and applying the most accurate measurement standards. They offer commercial services but also run training and events relating to measurement science and the challenges surrounding the subject. Their product verification services help companies to manufacture products to original design specifications through better measurement and inspection practices.
The AMCASH Project, which is a part-funded ERDF programme, is coordinated through the School of Metallurgy & Materials at the University of Birmingham. This project offers technical assistance to regional SME’s within materials science related projects (such as microscopy, polymer science and computational modelling).
Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP’s) have been operating for 40 years. It links businesses with a research institution or university/graduate to deliver a specific, strategic innovation project and is part-funded by a grant. Click here to find out more about these partnerships.
Productivity and Competitiveness Lead
Black Country Consortium