Awards scheme will encourage SMEs to work with universities

Based on the strength of their research excellence in advanced materials, three UK universities have each been awarded EPSRC funds to create an awards scheme to support companies wishing to work with them for the first time.

Working with the Materials KTN, Sheffield and Glasgow universities will fund the so-called SPARK awards from their Knowledge Transfer Account (KTA) while Bath University will fund its involvement in the scheme through Bath Ventures.

Sean Smith of Bath Ventures said: ‘This new award scheme will allow SMEs in the south west to compete for funding to develop problem-solving proof-of-concept technology demonstrators and other development activities involving materials.’

The research work must be carried out by, or in collaboration with, one of the university partners and a fundamental requirement for such an award is that projects reach completion within four months from the start date of the project.

Smith said that priority would be given to projects that promise rapid results once the work is completed, and would allow the companies involved to develop innovative products or technologies from it.

The deadline for the 2011 SPARK Awards is 17:00 on 17 June. Applicants will be informed of the outcome on 8 July and projects will start by 3 October 2011.

Individual awards of up to £5,000 are available for UK-based companies. Further information and an application form can be found on the awards website at: