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Companies are constantly on the lookout for the ‘next big thing’ and innovation is the driving force of the modern world. Be it in areas of industry or technology, the latest developments are always monitored closely by developers, researchers and rivals, keen to stay ahead of the curve. Innovation is often driven by companies which are carrying out research that is not immediately a paying, commercial venture.

The road from ‘ideas on paper’ to commercialisation is often a bumpy one.  The Journal of Product Innovation Management speculated that ‘open innovation’ is the way forward: ‘Putting your needs and challenges out in the open is better than trying to innovate on your own’. In this way, companies can forge co-creative partnerships inside or outside their firms, where there may be some synergy in direction and outcome. Research and Development (R&D) is a crucial part of the success of most businesses. The timescales it takes to develop products is often the point at which the project stalls, with costs sometimes becoming prohibitive.

The I2C programme drives innovation and is designed to nurture the best talent to produce the success stories of tomorrow. The technology hub based at Thornton Science Park encompasses a wide range of disciplines and is located in the heart of the Cheshire Science Corridor.  It offers particularly attractive opportunities to businesses, researchers and developers in the North West that are working within the energy, environmental, automotive and advanced manufacturing industries.

There’s no doubt that innovation is a crucial factor in all areas of business. The ability to retain competitive advantage, keep products and services fresh, create new ideas and improve performance are all key areas in which companies seek to deliver excellence. Innovation is often associated with longevity and the long-term business narrative – the ability to invent and reinvent ideas and products for new audiences, whilst building on existing customers and consolidated success. Valuable strategies for innovation can include collaborative research, licencing or joint ventures, as new perspectives can fuel new ways of thinking and development.  

Companies that sign up to I2C will have access to some of the most state-of-the-art facilities and knowledgeable experts in their fields of business. In addition to I2C’s in-house team of engineers and an array of specialist equipment, SMEs that enrol in the project will have access to the world-class facilities at the University of Chester, via the skills, equipment and resources based on-site at Thornton Science Park and the NowFOOD Centre in Chester.

The I2C initiative is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund and any SME registered or trading in Cheshire and Warrington is eligible to apply for I2C. Applicants must have a turnover of less than €50 million and employ fewer than 250 employees. If you are an SME and meet the criteria to take part in I2C, please visit our website and complete the application form at www1.chester.ac.uk/i2c.

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