A programme designed to help growth companies in the south east gain access to resources and funding for innovation is appealing for ambitious engineering firms to take part.

The aim of the Innovation Advisory Service is to help technology-based companies identify and exploit major growth opportunities and strengthen their own innovation and R&D capability. Support would include helping firms apply for funding, secure new business opportunities, investigate new technologies and access the latest research.

Eligible businesses should have an operating base in the south east and ideally have 30 or more employees in order to benefit fully from this service. They can call on up to 10 days of free and focused advice from experienced innovation advisors who have access to the best resources available in the region.

This initiative brings together for the first time a partnership of the UK’s leading experts in innovation and R&D. The Service is managed by Oxford Innovation, who will deliver it in collaboration with the National Physical Laboratory, CLIK, the technology transfer arm of the CCLRC Rutherford Appleton Laboratory, and TTI, a wholly owned subsidiary of Serco.

Dr Treve Willis, Project Director for the Innovation Advisory Service, said, “I would like to encourage South East engineering firms to take advantage of this opportunity to have an independent, expert pair of eyes review their business potential. By offering them greater access to both specialist advice and the UK’s best resources in science and technology, we hope that they can achieve a substantial boost to their profitability and competitiveness.”

This service has been initiated and launched by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) with £2.5m funding.

As well as benefiting from the advisors’ own director-level business experience, firms will be able to use a series of innovation toolkits including technology assessment, marketing of innovation, process management, corporate venturing and project management. The Service also intends to make it easier for the transfer of knowledge between the academic and business communities at both regional and national level.

Jim Brathwaite, Chairman of SEEDA, said, “The international competitiveness of the South East depends on the ability of our businesses to innovate. By developing the Innovation Advisory Service concept and providing the funding for its delivery through Oxford Innovation and their partners, SEEDA is taking a very practical step towards meeting that ambition.

“It will ensure that businesses have ready access to the very best advice and support they need to innovate whether through their own processes or through collaboration with other businesses, our world class universities and other centres of research and knowledge excellence.”