Members Area
T: +44 (0)114 551 8170

Innovative Manufacturing Working Group Newsletter


Innovate UK KTN: Freight Innovation Fund Accelerator
Deadline: 5 February 2023
The Freight Innovation Fund  is a multi-faceted programme, funded by the Department for Transport (DfT) and delivered by Connected Places Catapult, which will accelerate the adoption of commercially ready solutions into the sector. Up to 12 SMEs will be selected to join a 6-month programme with up to £150,000 of funding to trial their freight solutions. SMEs are encouraged to apply in partnership with other organisations, such as corporate partners, with whom they are already in discussions to support the trials.

Advanced Propulsion Centre: TDAP Wave 7
Deadline: February 2023
Wave 7 of the Technology Developer Accelerator Programme (TDAP) offers up to £170,000 of grant support to ambitious micro, small and medium-sized enterprises. The programme supports SMEs that are developing early-stage net-zero enabling on or off-vehicle technology, products or services that want to accelerate their route to market and grow. TDAP does this over a 17-month phased programme through a combination of grant funding, invaluable technical support and business mentoring, with industry networking opportunities.
Click here for more details.

Innovate UK KTN: Innovation Loans Future Economy Competition: Round 8
UK registered businesses can apply for loans of £100k-£2m for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy. Innovate UK is offering up to £25 million in loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Loans are for highly innovative late-stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. Your project must lead to innovative new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available, or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

NATEP: Helping SMEs innovate in aerospace: Autumn 2022
UK registered SMEs can apply for a share of up to £2.5 million for industrial-led civil aerospace collaborative R&D projects. The aim of this competition is to help SMEs to develop their own innovative technologies. These should enhance their capabilities and increase their ability to win new business in the civil aerospace sector.

Coventry and Warwickshire Innovation Programme
This European funded programme provides a range of assistance to SMEs to help them develop innovative and new-to-market products, services or technologies. Support is provided for developing and testing new products, for acquiring IP, finance up to £75k, networking opportunities and workshops and 1:1 support. If you are looking to grow your company and launch your innovation before the end of June 2023 than please get in touch.

HS2: Business Opportunities   
If your business is near to the new railway, HS2 wants to find out more about you. HS2 is already using over 1,000 businesses near to the line of the new railway. This accounts for around half of their current supply chain. Over three quarters of these are Small to Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs), so there are real benefits already being realised by local businesses through our contractors. Their shopping list is varied. As well as tools, materials and services which are required for construction, they also need to ensure that their workforce (up to 30,000 people at the peak of the works) has everything they may need. This means that their contractors could also be looking for caterers, stationary providers, accommodation and much more.

Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) 
Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) is a £20M project (2020 to 2023) which supports the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands by helping to unlock its innovation potential. The project is being delivered by the University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance. Aerospace UP is supported by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), which helps businesses to access funding and expertise to improve their performance through innovation in all aspects of their enterprise. As a pan-Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) project, Aerospace UP is available to SMEs in 8 Midlands LEP areas.

The Supplier Skills Programme
This £4 million programme is providing training grants to support a wide range of qualifications in order to support SMEs to recover from the COVID-19 pandemic, and develop their staff and their skills. Training grants of up to a maximum of £50,000per SME are available, and training will be funded 50% by the grant and 50% by the SME. Training must be accredited by the Ofqual Framework or recognised by industry and professional accrediting bodies, and can be for qualifications from Basic to Level 7 (Masters) or equivalent, and licence based qualifications. This funding will be delivered through rounds which will be held on a quarterly basis until the programme closes in December 2023.

The Queen’s Awards for Enterprise
This is a fantastic opportunity to gain recognition for companies of at least 2 or more employees who are having strong commercial growth and success or leading the way in the market with innovation or sustainable developments.  The award brings great recognition including worldwide recognition, greater coverage by the press and a sense of achievement for the company’s staff.  Click here for more details about the event.


Innovative Working Groups
For more details of our family of working groups please visit their pages. For ease here is a quick round up of their next events:

Cyber Working Group – TBC
Smart Places Working Group –TBC
Innovative Transport Working Group –TBC
Innovative Health Working Group  – 2 February, 1:00-3:00pm
Innovative Zero Carbon Working Group – 26 January, 10:00am – 12pm

Venturefest West Midlands 2023
Date: 1 March, 2023, 8:00- 17:00 (in-person)
Venturefest is a free event which will take place at the Eastside Rooms in Birmingham. Being supported locally by business, universities, science parks and business support organisations Venturefest provides entrepreneurs, investors and innovators the chance to meet, engage and exchange ideas for co-operation and collaboration, particularly in the fields of science and emerging technologies.
This year’s programme will include a keynote from the West Midlands Mayor, Andy Street. A full programme of speakers will be announced over the coming weeks.

Key themes this year include:
-How to navigate the business support system
-Diversity in innovation and enterprise
-Getting Investor Ready
-Health tech
-Clean tech
If you are interested in being an exhibitor at this year’s Venturefest please contact Carla Shepherd:

Innovation Insider – Building West Midlands Businesses’ Innovative Capacity – Innovation Alliance for the West Midlands (
The latest post in IAWM’s Innovation Insider series comes from Patrick Bek Service Innovation and Experimentation at Birmingham City University (BCU)’s STEAMhouse centre for collaborative innovation, who talks about providing businesses with support and resources to develop new products, services and strategies that can help them find a way through uncertain times and reach new markets.  Click here for more information.


BCRRE’S Event at RaisE: Supporting SMEs & their Journey in Rail
Date: February 1 2023, 10:30am – 2:30pm (in-person)
Building on the success of BCRRE’s first event at RaisE in October 2022, you can expect a fast paced and informative event that expands beyond the theme of support available to Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) in the Rail sector. You will hear about Network Rail’s major infrastructure project the Trans-Pennie Route Upgrade (TRU), how innovation and the use of BIM (Building Information Modelling) is being applied to Rail, from Enigma Seven and how to work with TOCs and FOCs in the rolling stock supply chain, hear from Siemens Mobility all designed to help SMEs understand the supply chain opportunities. Click here for more details.

West Midlands Climate Change Adaptation Programme: Invitation to a Resources Dissemination Webinar
Date: 9 February 2023, 10:00 – 11:30
SWM and the Environment Agency have been working in collaboration for the past two years with the aim to accelerate action on climate change adaptation across the region. They followed this up last year by developing a range of resources and guidance documents for different sectors. This webinar, taking place on 9 February at 10:00, will provide an overview of each of these resources, and include a Q&A session so you can find out more about climate change adaptation and how you can get the most out of the resources. Click here for more details.

MAA and University of Nottingham: Advanced Air Mobility (AAM) and drone virtual networking event
Date: 8 February 2023, 14:00 – 16:00 (online)
This event is organised by the Midlands Aerospace Alliance and University of Nottingham as part of the Aerospace UP programme. Join companies from across the AAM and drone supply chain to meet and collaborate. This is an opportunity to engage with representatives at all levels in the supply chain. A virtual networking event format will let you choose who to meet and when, either one-to-one or around the table with others – just like being in the room in real life! Click here for more details.

Minerva Birmingham Investment Pitching Competition
Date: 1st March 2023
Are you an ambitious business leader looking to improve your ability to win investment and boost your profile? The Minerva Birmingham Pitch Up Competition is aimed at small business leaders looking for support in securing investment. Apply here if interested, applications close on 27th January. The final will take place at Venturefest on 1st March 2023 at Eastside Rooms.

Women: Innovation, Technology, Strength
Date: 8 March 2023, 09:30 – 14:30 (in-person)
Don’t miss this inspiring event, created to applaud the achievements of Women in Innovation!
There will be discussions on what drives women, challenges they come up against and ideas they bring to life. We have a line-up of girls-next-door, who are passionate about science, business and various causes close to their hearts and who have gone to do amazing things

Midlands Aerospace Alliance annual conference
Date: 23 March 2023, 09:00 – 16:00 (in-person)
Join the next MAA Annual Conference at the Royal Airforce Museum, Cosford to hear from defence primes and tier 1s from across the UK. Joiningthe conference gives you the chance to get ahead of the industry by exploring key market trends impacting aerospace companies and resulting business opportunities. Click here for more details.

Derby University – Enscite Learning Labs – Workshops
This series of workshops is aimed at small-to-medium sized enterprises (SMEs) in the aerospace, rail and automotive supply chain, which are based in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire. Click here for more details.


Speakers for Schools – Work Experience for All Campaign
Speakers for Schools believe every young person in the UK should have the right to high-quality work experience regardless of their starting point in life or geographical location. They are calling on all political parties to make work experience universal and ensure that every young person in the UK completes at least one work experience placement by the age of 16 and at least one work experience placement between the ages of 16-18. In the summer term they will be running a programme of events called ‘Are You GAME’ focusing on exploring different skills in STEM. As part of the campaign employers are encouraged to join and offer sessions for young people in the West Midlands and further afield. Read more at

UoB’s Digi-Rail Project
Do you have a small innovation project idea for rail and rail-related applications? The University of Birmingham’s Digi-Rail project is in its final few months so get on board soon! Eligible SMEs can access a minimum of 12 hours’ free consultancy from business and technical experts from the Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Education, including the popular 2-day Get Into Rail course and a technical masterclass to find out and explore where your company can use and benefit from smart sensors and sensing technologies for products and services for the rail industry. Details at

BCRRE’s new Rail Innovation Cluster (BRIC)
The Birmingham Centre for Railway Research and Innovation at the University of Birmingham announced the new Rail Innovation Cluster (BRIC) at InnoTrans, the International Trade Fair for Transport Technology, held in Berlin last month. BRIC’s vision is to support SMEs to deliver greater value and innovative capability in the rail supply chain, both in the UK and abroad. Read more at

DEMAND Hub (Data-Enabled Medical technologies And Devices Hub) is an ERDF-supported programme for the Black Country, Greater Birmingham and Solihull, Coventry & Warwickshire, and Stoke-On-Trent & Staffordshire LEP regions. The programme runs until June 2023 and supports SME businesses in, or looking to enter, the healthcare market. Details at