From April 2019 until March 2022, the University of Derby is offering funding and support for SMEs in Derbyshire and Nottinghamshire.

Improve performance and accelerate growth

Productivity through Innovation (PtI) is a programme which allows businesses to access a suite of funding, services and support activities to improve their productivity and their market competitiveness.

The programme has been developed in partnership with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University with the express purpose of improving the performance of the businesses involved.

The knowledge and skills of University staff, as well as technology and facilities across multiple sites and campuses, are available for participants to access over the duration of the programme.

Industrial Research

Work with our MPhil research students to deliver meaningful and sustainable productivity improvements that can deliver real results linked to increased turnover, improved efficiency and profitability.

Find out more about industrial research opportunities

Who is it for?

The PtI programme is open for applications from small to medium sized enterprises (SMEs) across a wide range of industries and sectors in the Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire area (D2N2). 

Applications to the programme will need to submit a robust business proposal, explaining the innovative approach they will take and forecasting the impact the project will have on growth and productivity.

What’s on offer?

PtI aims to deliver an in-depth programme of support, working directly with participating businesses to identify and deliver meaningful and sustainable improvements.

A two stage diagnostic will inform a bespoke support package that will aim to improvement in the below areas.

Research and development

  • Industrial research projects scoped according to business needs with a view to tackle a specific business issue. Find out more information about funded industrial research for SMEs (small and medium-sized enterprises)
  • Access to industry standard facilities
  • Academic support for technical interventions including prototyping and testing

Skills and talent

  • Knowledge Exchange for Innovation (KEI) is a 30% grant towards the salary of a graduate for up to 12 months
  • Recruitment support from our dedicated Employability Team
  • Graduate/undergraduate internships and placements available for a range of durations according to business needs i.e. from 80 hours up to 400 hours (Available from December 2020)

Benchmark productivity data will be gathered before and after the collaboration to evaluate the impact and results of the support.


The PtI programme is open for applications from SMEs with an ambition to innovate across a wide range of industries and sectors.

To be eligible you must be an established SME in the D2N2 area (Derby/Derbyshire, Nottingham/Nottinghamshire). Further suitability for the project will be established through the diagnostic.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are defined as:

  • less than 250 employees
  • annual turnover under 50 million euros
  • annual balance sheet less than 43 million euros

If you are unsure whether or not you qualify for support, please contact the University Research and Knowledge Exchange Office at [email protected].

How to apply

Funding is available from 1 April 2019 until 31 March 2022.

For further information and to discuss potential projects, please contact;

Cara Roberts – ERDF Business Advisor

[email protected] 07500 096112