Sussex Innovation has announced its winning bid to the UK Community Renewal Fund, which will provide £530,000 in funding to help the county’s business community unlock its potential for innovation.

The Innovation Masters programme will involve a variety of activities purpose-built to respond to the needs of businesses at different stages of their journey:

An Innovation Hit Squad to provide targeted, long-term consultative support for five of East Sussex’s highest potential mid-sized businesses, helping to harness untapped resources, embed innovative practices and develop new ideas.

Master Sessions with specialist mentoring and group workshops to help 50 fast-growing SMEs improve creativity, productivity and skills throughout their team.
A digital Lean Innovation training course for more than 600 early-stage and micro businesses to diagnose gaps in their experience and develop their skills, supplemented by one-to-one coaching.
An Investment Bootcamp to support 50 local businesses with developing a business plan and pitching their product with the aim of raising £100,000+ equity funding.
As well as drawing upon Sussex Innovation’s in-house team of expert consultants, participating businesses will also get the potential opportunity to access a rich pool of academics and PhD students from the University of Sussex’s schools and research groups, including the world-leading Science Policy Research Unit, Digital Futures at Work Research Centre, Data Intensive Science Centre, UK Trade Policy Observatory and University of Sussex Business School.

The new programme will be part of the most radical shake-up of Sussex Innovation’s identity in its 25-year history, as the organisation rebrands with a focus on harnessing its track record of insightful research, inspirational coaching and innovative ideas to shape a better future.

“We’re in a new era, where enterprise can and must think differently and make our world better,” said Nigel Lambe, Chief Executive of Sussex Innovation. “Backed by the history of our region, and of the University of Sussex as a pioneering force in fighting for social and environmental causes, we are renewing our commitment to help our region’s truly game-changing businesses grow and deliver greater impact.

“As the UK responds to the twin shocks of the pandemic and our exit from the EU, there have been calls for a ‘green recovery’ to create jobs and stimulate the economy while answering the call to fight back against a looming climate emergency. We’re excited to play our part in supporting that ambition, but we don’t plan to stop there.”

“When we began thinking about this relaunch back in 2019, we thought long and hard about the purpose of incubators and accelerators like ours in society,” said Helena Jevons, Head of Sales and Marketing for Sussex Innovation. “Our job is fundamentally different to a VC looking for commercial ROI, and we should be bold enough to bet on smart, radical ideas. Rather than playing safe with the ideas and community we nurture, we knew that we wanted to use our position and our influence to help enact positive change.

“We’re looking for likeminded scale-ups with real purpose to join us on this journey. That purpose might be environmental action, new education systems, protecting physical health and emotional wellbeing, fighting for social equality, or harnessing emerging technologies like AI and big data for good. We want to bring transformative thinking together and work to turn pioneering ideas into commercially sustainable reality.”

As part of this drive, core modules on the new coaching and mentoring programme will focus on not-for-profit innovation, increasing social and environmental impact and delivering against the UK’s Net Zero strategy.