INDEX links universities with firms

A £240,000 programme has been designed to strengthen links between universities and small and medium-sized companies in the Midlands.

The INnovation Delivers EXpansion (INDEX) project, will give 80 companies, with no more than 250 employees, the opportunity to receive a £3,000 ‘innovation’ voucher. The voucher can be exchanged with any of the region’s universities, allowing companies to tap into academic expertise relevant to their businesses.

‘Together the universities have a wealth of hidden expertise and knowledge and this programme will help companies identify and choose a person that will be able to help them,’ said Gil Murray, assistant director of CBI in the West Midlands.

‘The programme has been designed to be simple for companies to access and break down the communications barriers often associated with universities.’

INDEX is co-ordinated by Aston University, and funded by the Regional Development Agency, Advantage West Midlands (AWM), the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) and the EPSRC.

Initially, 40 vouchers will be allocated on a lottery basis to the applicants, and there will be another round of vouchers available in April next year.

The closing date for the first round of voucher applications is Friday 29th June, and businesses can apply online at