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 £5.4 million to provide individual innovation grants of between £1,000 and £100,000. The grant application process is currently open for new submissions from SMEs across eight Local Enterprise Partnership Areas in the Midlands.
In addition to financial grants, companies eligible for the Aerospace UP programme can access world-class facilities, technology experts and events at the University. They will also benefit from 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 smaller businesses across the aerospace supply chain access to the UK’s best facilities and expertise, and the opportunity to collaborate and share challenges, we will help create a vibrant ecosystem in our region that will be perfectly placed to respond to new opportunities.”
Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange said: “The Aerospace Unlocking Potential project builds on the University’s existing work with companies in the local aerospace supply chain to drive technological advancement towards cleaner, greener air travel. The project will provide much-welcomed support to 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 supply chain businesses to grow, by providing the tools and support needed to do so, the programme will form a critical part of the recovery of the Midlands aerospace cluster, which is one of the largest in the world and greatly impacted by the pandemic.
Dr Andrew Mair, Chief Executive 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. With the Covid-19 crisis creating major challenges for many aerospace suppliers today, Aerospace UP grants of up to £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 do not have to have a particular project in mind to make an application, as the Aerospace UP team can assist with identifying opportunities. However, it would be useful to consider ideas around greener technologies; improving efficiency; evolving in anticipation of future market requirements; solving quality or delivery issues as well as other manufacturing challenges.
Interested companies should visit aerospaceup.com to find out more information about the project, eligibility requirements and how to apply. A virtual ‘Aerospace UP Supply Chain Funding Event’ is planned for 11 February 2021.