? Focus Innovation Group is encouraging SMEs to access grants and support

A group which is celebrating its fifth anniversary is encouraging innovative small businesses to get in touch with its members to access grants and support.

The Coventry & Warwickshire Focus Innovation Group was established to promote innovation and growth among SMEs in the area.

It is made up of organisations and universities from across the region who specialise in innovation including the Coventry and Warwickshire Local Enterprise Partnership (CWLEP) Growth Hub, WMG at the University of Warwick, Midlands Aerospace Alliance, The MTC, Coventry City Council, Innovation Alliance, Aston University and Birmingham University.

They specialise in helping SMEs to access funding and deliver successful projects as well as building a co-ordinated approach to support innovation in Coventry and Warwickshire and share intelligence.

The CWLEP Growth Hub, WMG and Coventry City Council are currently working with group members on a project to gather information on all the innovation projects that are available for SMEs to access in the area and an improved customer journey to access innovation support.

Craig Humphrey, managing director at the CWLEP Growth Hub, said the initiative was focused on helping SMEs to innovate which, in turn, would boost the economy at a time when it needed it the most due to Covid-19.

He said: “We are looking at ways we can help companies navigate all the support that is out there in Coventry and Warwickshire to get what they need.

“The universities and other organisations that are involved in the Coventry & Warwickshire Focus Innovation Group meet so that we can work together to help SMEs in the area.

“By talking to each other and finding out what support is available, this project which is co-chaired by WMG and Coventry City Council will help us to identify any gaps and deliver the region’s Strategic Economic Plan.

“There are some great schemes available in a fast-moving world and this is a chance for us to put all the projects in one place so that SMEs can access funding and build great innovative businesses.”

Cllr Jim O’Boyle, Cabinet Member for Jobs and Regeneration at Coventry City Council, said this was an opportunity to join up all the innovation schemes available to SMEs in Coventry and Warwickshire.

“There is no doubt that Coventry and Warwickshire is a beacon of innovation activity with inspiring work taking place in every area of the region,” he said.

“We want to encourage even more jobs, products and new firms in Coventry and Warwickshire by building a more co-ordinated approach to support innovation.

“We particularly want to target entrepreneurs, start-ups, spin-outs, scale-ups, service providers, manufacturers, engineers and transport SMEs to provide help in a variety of ways such as information on grants, coaching, technical support and R&D.

“With members of the Coventry & Warwickshire Focus Innovation Group sharing information on all their innovation schemes, we can help to inform SMEs of the vast array of support services that are available to help them particularly as the business community takes the first tentative steps towards recovery from Coronavirus.”

Paul Milne, co-chair of the group and project manager at WMG SME Group, added: “It has been a pleasure to see the evolution of the group by pooling the many talents across the region from our two great universities to our two great High Value Manufacturing Catapult centres with the support of our city and county councils and, of course, the Growth Hub.  This has been the case especially over the last year as the group has grown – it has been a privilege to welcome on-board so much of the top innovation talents and programmes from across the Midlands.

“We all – older and newer members alike – recognise that the challenges for our small business community has never been as great, in our lifetimes at least, and we share a common passion and determination to work together to help SMEs across the region to innovate to survive, revive, thrive and reach their pots of gold at the end of the rainbow. If you know a small business that could do with a helping hand please get in touch because we’re here to help.”

For more information, please visit www.cwgrowthhub.co.uk