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How Universities can help SMEs to innovate



How Universities can help SMEs to innovate

SMEs are the lifeblood of the UK economy, with the SMEs in the UK’s top cities set to contribute £241 billion to our economy by 2025,and with the ability to make such a significant contribution, it’s important that they are supported to sustain growth and continue delivering new innovations to market.

New and innovative business ideas are what get most entrepreneurs, SMEs and start-up businesses out of bed in the morning! And with the freedom to do it their own way, these new ideas are often the foundations of a bright future.

But innovation doesn’t always come easy…

There’s no doubt that launching a new product to market is hard, even established, well-respected brands find it tough and that’s not to mention the cost implications of R&D and marketing resources. No matter how big the ambition or great the idea, the reality for an SME to bring a new product to market can be daunting, especially with limited funds and resources.

So, what do you do if you have an amazing idea, but are unable to access the right facilities to design, build and test your concept?  

Universities and SMEs – the perfect match

Although it may not be the first thought that pops into an SME owners mind, there is a resource available with all the creative space, equipment and technologies that can help them bring their ideas to life. Universities not only have the facilities, but they are a hotbed of creativity, knowledge and support that can help SMEs develop their products and thrive.

An investment in the latest equipment and technologies can be too costly for an SME or entrepreneur, but many universities will welcome entrepreneurs to come and use their facilities, technologies and workspaces!

But it’s bigger than simply accessing equipment, there is the opportunity to access on site advice with expert knowledge also on offer to help entrepreneurs make the most of the facilities available and to support them in their innovation journeys.

This is why Birmingham City University has created STEAMhouse, a brand new makerspace facility in Digbeth which encapsulates the STEAM ethos of collaborative thinking. Our facility has been launched to help the region’s entrepreneurs bring new products to life, supporting their growth and boosting the local economy. When you bring an idea to STEAMhouse, you are also able to experience first-hand the benefits of collaborative innovation and work with our team to create an action plan for developing, making and commercialising their product.

Innovators are then invited to take advantage of our fabrication space and state-of-the-art equipment which includes free access to all the latest makerspace technologies including 3D printers, laser cutters, circular saws and screenprint beds. Experienced technicians are also on hand to offer advice and guidance and support in using the equipment.

American entrepreneur and author Jim Rohn once said: “If you really want to do something, you’ll find a way. If you don’t you’ll find an excuse.” Don’t let the ‘not knowing how’ be the reason for your business goals to remain unfulfilled.



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