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A University of Chester project part funded by the European Regional Development Fund supporting new product development and Innovation for SMEs.

What is it?

The Innovation to Commercialisation Project (I2C) is supported and partly funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The I2C Project seeks to help eligible SME businesses introduce innovation into their organisations and advance commercialisation of new products, processes and services to the marketplace.

Based at the University of Chester’s Thornton Science Park, the programme will offer SMEs access to the Faculty of Science and Engineering resources together with the I2C team of engineers and specialist equipment.

The I2C Programme Pathway

Stage 1: Foundation

Providing the organisational tools for successful new product development and introducing Computer Aided Design tools, advanced manufacturing and rapid prototyping concepts. Helping to ensure a systematic approach to innovation readiness, concept generation, development and validation thereby enabling an organisation to effectively create, develop and benefit from new products, processes and services:

  • New product development strategies
  • Idea generation and screening
  • Concept development and product validation
  • Product tools and techniques
  • Commercialisation

This support will be delivered through a two day workshop and is essential to progress to the higher levels of support within the project.

At the end of this stage we expect the business to have a set of organisational tools, skills and knowledge to introduce a systematic process for effective innovation development and process management.

Stage 2: Technical Intervention

Providing access to specialist equipment, academics and bespoke support services. A team of engineers will support concept development with a range of tools such as Computer Aided Design, Finite Element Analysis and Computational Fluid Dynamics to show the proof of concept. You will be supported to create the jointly agreed innovation plan setting out the scope of development, timescales and deliverables leading to a proof of concept. Businesses will also have access to University expertise, equipment and software tools which may include:

  • Computer modelling tools such as CAD, Finite Element Analysis, Computational Fluid Dynamics software
  • Electronic and Mechanical Engineering development
  • 3D Visualisation
  • Rapid prototyping, modelling and simulation
  • Prototyping development
  • Design for manufacture
  • Advanced manufacture – 3D printing

Stage 3: Advanced Intervention

Providing support for prototype development and testing as well as assistance to resource external expertise and funding needed to fully develop the product and to commercialise. Innovation will be well advanced at this stage and it is anticipated that the business will understand the innovation pathways within their organisation and have exploited, at some level, the facilities and support offered by the University.

  • Prototype manufacture
  • Testing
  • Partnerships
  • Network introductions to advance manufacturing facilities, fabricators and other resources
  • Funding routes
  • Specialist consultants
  • Niche technical skills

At the end of this stage we would expect the product to be advancing to full commercialisation.

Promoting design, prototyping and testing

The focal point of the I2C Project will be the creation of networking events and bespoke industry training to enhance and promote design and innovation in the region.

  • Networking events with leading innovation guest speakers
  • Masterclasses to provide essential business skills for successful new product development
  • Advice from the team at Thornton to develop your ideas and concepts
  • Assistance with initial design considerations to proof of concept using CAD, FEM and CFD with data analysis tools
  • Technical team – mechanical; electronic and control software
  • Access within the I2C Project to CAD, modelling and simulation tools
  • Industry training for software tools
  • Factory visits for Advanced Manufacturing
  • Help finding other support options and partners
  • Resource and network to find outside help to “make” prototypes
  • Network of Advanced Manufacturing and fabrication workshops from a range of commercial and academic partners
  • Innovation workshops


Eligibility criteria to the project:

  • SME – less than €50 million turnover and less than 250 employees
  • Registered or trading within Cheshire and Warrington catchment area

To express an interest in this programme, or find out more, please don’t hesitate to get in touch.

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