SME Innovation Voucher Scheme

The University of Surrey’s SME Innovation Voucher Scheme funds innovative, collaborative projects between small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and our world-class academics.

Overview

The Scheme aims to cultivate closer ties between UK-based SMEs and the University of Surrey. It provides businesses with an introduction to working with the University with a view to developing new partnerships and identifying opportunities for further collaboration.  The vouchers enable SMEs to harness the University’s cutting-edge academic expertise and state-of-the-art facilities, explore complex challenges facing business, drive product innovation and accelerate growth.

Projects

Each project should tackle a genuine challenge faced by an SME - an issue which can only be addressed with the help of expert know-how and may include the use of specialist facilities - and must be delivered by the University of Surrey.

We will work with you to understand your business needs and introduce you to relevant academics to scope an innovative project with clearly-defined tasks, deliverables and outcomes. Projects may, for example, focus on COVID-19 recovery and future-proofing your business, and may explore specific challenges, test new products or introduce new processes within your organisation. They may also involve a feasibility study or proof-of-concept - all designed to help your business to innovate and grow.

Each Innovation Voucher fully covers the cost of the services provided by the University, and is expected to be valued at between £5,000 and £10,000. Innovative projects requiring larger amounts may be considered where the value can be justified. No money will be paid to the SMEs, which will be responsible for their own costs or contribution towards their projects.

Areas of academic expertise

Our academics are experts in a wide range of disciplines, all of which you can access under the Scheme, for example:

Business, Innovation and Social Sciences

  • Blockchain, Digital Transformation
  • Retail, Hospitality and Tourism
  • Operations/Process Management
  • HR, Culture & Change Management
  • Diversity, Translation and Law
  • Digital Media Arts
  • Organisational & Behavioural Psychology
  • Energy and Health Economics

Engineering and Physical Sciences

  • Chemical & Process Engineering
  • Material Science
  • Civil and Mechanical Engineering
  • Environment and Sustainability
  • Electronics, Communications
  • Vision, Speech & Signal Processing
  • Computer & Data Sciences and Cybersecurity
  • Maths, Physics, Robotics and Space

Health and Medical Sciences

  • Biosciences and Medicine
  • Clinical Research
  • Food and Consumer Behaviour
  • Psychology
  • Experimental Biology
  • Nutrition and Sports Sciences
  • Health Sciences and Technology
  • Sleep and Healthy Ageing
  • Veterinary Medicine

Application process

Vouchers will be allocated in three calls, the closing dates of which are: 

  • Monday, 27 September 2021 (midday)
  • Monday, 13 December 2021 (midday)
  • Wednesday, 16 March 2022 (midday).

Successful application will be notified approx. 5-6 weeks after these dates.

As available funding is limited, we reserve the right to close the scheme early if demand is high and all funds have been allocated.

Eligibility

To be eligible for a Voucher the applicant must be an established, revenue-generating, UK-based small or medium-sized business who can demonstrate innovation and growth and are looking for support to take their business to the next level.

Preference will be given to proposals from mature SMEs who wish to engage with the University and its academics for the first time.

No more than one Voucher will be awarded per SME; and no Academic may lead more than one project and support more than one project under the SME IV Scheme.

In exceptional circumstances, we may consider applications from existing SME partners wishing to establish a relationship with a new Department and from Academics who wish to engage in additional Voucher projects.

No University staff member or intern delivering a Voucher project (or their families) can have an interest in the beneficiary SME, e.g. be a shareholder or director.

Terms and conditions

The total number of Vouchers is limited.

Applications will be reviewed by a selection panel and approved at the discretion of the Scheme Administrators, and funding allocated by the HEIF Governance Group.

Each Voucher will cover in full the costs of the University’s services provided to the beneficiary Business Partner. Vouchers cannot be used to fund any expenditure incurred by an SME as part the delivery of the project.

UK Subsidy Control, State Aid and Procurement

SME IVs are subject to the UK Subsidy Control Framework. Successful SMEs must ensure at all times that their receipt of the Voucher is compliant with any subsidy control legislation applicable in the United Kingdom on or after 1 January 2021 and with EU State Aid regulations for funding that will affect trade between Northern Ireland and the EU as envisaged by Article 10 of the Protocol on Ireland/Northern Ireland in the EU Withdrawal Agreement.

How to apply

Please contact the Scheme Manager, Dan Bance, at collaborate@surrey.ac.uk to discuss your business needs and potential areas of collaboration. Dan will then guide you through the application process.