Accessing innovation expertise within Newcastle University

Accessing innovation expertise within Newcastle University

Chris Angus is the programme manager for Arrow, an innovation support programme.  He explains how the programme can give SMEs access to expertise and equipment within Newcastle University.

The Arrow team works with North East SMEs to help them solve specific challenges where no off-the-shelf solution exists. Every project we do is bespoke and co-designed with the SME to deliver exactly what they need.

We’ve used the university labs to help people work on analysis and testing and we’ve worked with engineering companies on rapid prototyping and new materials. We also help develop new technologies that can speed up growth in SMEs in all sectors, including data-focussed projects and machine learning.

It’s hard to articulate both the breadth and depth of the knowledge, skills and equipment that’s available to businesses and I think it’s unparalleled in the region.

Access to 3,000 academic experts

We have a team of innovation experts but we’re also woven into the wider expertise of the university. This means that businesses can get direct access to academics – genuine world-class experts who are at the cutting edge of their fields.

We have 3,000 academics at Newcastle University and it isn’t always easy to figure out the right person to contact and what the point of entry is for a business. Part of Arrow’s purpose is to make access much easier by finding the right people.

Expertise across a wide range of fields

We can access expertise and equipment across pretty much any field, from life sciences and healthcare to energy and offshore industries.

We also work with businesses that are a range of sizes, from start-ups to established SMEs that want to develop new markets, new products, or new ways of working.

Our team is really good at helping people tease out what it is that they need to get their project moving, so don’t worry if you have a project in mind but it’s not fully formed yet. We’re happy to have those initial conversations and help you get started.

Tapping into broader networks

Once an SME is working with us, they often end up tapping into a broader network through the connections they make. We’ve seen SMEs go on to link up with large PLCs and we also see businesses establish links with specific schools within the university, for example by co-creating a project for a cohort of students which can then be steered and evaluated by an academic. This can be a way of carrying out large pieces of development work which might be economically unviable through a consultancy.

The university might not be the right fit for every project but, when it is, it opens up opportunities for all sorts of collaboration, visibility and, ultimately, business growth.

Find out more about Arrow.

Arrow is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

(Photo credit: Kevin Gibson)