Board member news

Driving innovation in small to medium enterprises

Cardiff University Innovation Network hosted a packed event for small to medium enterprises (SMEs). It was organised with the Vision 2020 Network, a collaboration platform for research organisations and companies participating in the Horizon 2020 EU funding programme. Cardiff University is a founding member of Vision 2020, along with 36 other leading European universities and research organisations. Professor Hywel Thomas first wrote about the collaboration platform in December (read more here). Horizon 2020 is making available €3 billion for SMEs over the next seven years and Jasper Hemmes of the European Commission –  Executive Agency for Small and Medium-sized Enterprises was there to explain how to apply for the funds, along with Abdul Rahim, Director of Vision 2020. The message was simple: the level of demand for funding is high but well-developed, mature bids have a reasonable chance of success. Jasper advised that companies applying need to have market ready products – they cannot be ideas still gestating in the labs. SMEs were advised to collaborate where appropriate with Cardiff University and other Vision 2020 members in order to increase their chances of success. I have long been aware of the work Cardiff does with SMEs, not least because Sir Andrew Witty’s Review of Universities and Growth (2013) highlighted it. Sir Andrew reported that Cardiff had the 8th highest level of SME interaction among all UK HEIs (twice the number of interactions of any other Welsh HEI). It was reassuring to see that this success and commitment to working with SMEs continues, and that the local business community is clearly keen to take advantage of it.