News from Partners and Projects


UK in a Changing Europe – Brexit & Beyond

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Flood Innovation Centre

SME opportunities in Natural Flood Management

Wed 12 May 2021

12 hour online course – fully funded

For further information click here


New funding will support Yorkshire businesses to develop anaerobic digestion technologies

January 2021

Eligible businesses across Yorkshire are being urged to apply for a share of £600k to support their anaerobic digestion (AD) processes.

AD turns waste materials into renewable energy and nutrient-rich fertiliser and is seen as a crucial technology to increase the sustainability of industry, reduce carbon emissions and is seen as vital in helping the region move to a low-carbon, circular economy.

The funding is being awarded through the ADCEY project (Anaerobic Digestion and Circular Economy Yorkshire), the Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) and the University of York.

A total of 31 fully funded AD projects are available to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) across the Leeds City Region, York, North Yorkshire and East Riding.

Companies can access the expertise and the state-of-the-art scale up and analytical facilities of the BDC and of Professor James Chong’s research group at the University of York for help in researching or developing AD innovations.

This can include: desk-based studies, consultancy, laboratory tests, scale-up or demonstration activities. The ADCEY project will also support knowledge transfer and networking events for the regional AD industry by the BioVale innovation cluster.

Dr Joe Ross, Director at the Biorenewables Development Centre, said: “This support will help de-risk innovation by SMEs and enable the region’s AD industry to thrive and grow and to make the most of feedstocks from the region’s agriculture and the food and drink sectors.”

Professor James Chong of the University of York, added: “The AD industry makes a vital

contribution by increasing our resource efficiency and reducing our carbon emissions. By supporting innovation in AD, we can boost both the region’s economy and its sustainability.”


Businesses interested in applying for funding should contact: Dr Anna Alessi, Project and Communications Manager, Biorenewables Development Centre, +44 (0)1904 328052 or +44 (0) 7885 377335,

 Notes to editor:

To be eligible for funding: companies must be located in the Leeds City Region or York, North Yorkshire and East Riding Local Enterprise Partnership areas and be an SME

The Anaerobic Digestion and Circular Economy Yorkshire (ADCEY) project has received £0.6M of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

The Biorenewables Development Centre (BDC) is a University of York subsidiary, working at the interface between academia and industry to develop, scale-up and help commercialise new technologies using biomass and biowastes.

James Chong is a Professor in the Department of Biology at the University of York and Royal Society Industry Fellow. His research focus is on improving the outputs of AD by understanding microbial processes within AD.

BioVale is an initiative to develop and promote innovation for the bioeconomy across Yorkshire and the Humber. It is a non-profit company, led by a steering group with representatives from industry, academia and local government.









Humber Offshore Wind Cluster Prospectus Launch – 12th November 2020












BROUGHT TO YOU BY THE FLOOD INNOVATION CENTRE – Grow your business in the Property Flood Resilience market 12-hour online course

Course starts Tuesday 17th Nov 9.30am for four weeks

The Flood Innovation Centre is offering an exciting opportunity to book onto a free interactive workshop programme designed to support companies looking to grow their business in the emerging Property Flood Resilience (PFR) market.

You’ll have the chance to find out about the opportunities and challenges of this rapidly expanding sector, connecting you with more customers, enhancing your supply chains and helping you make a real difference in the fight against rising flood risk.

Our specialist courses are fully funded (so there’s no cost to your business) and they’re delivered online.

View the details in full  here


Flood Innovation Centre –  Understanding SuDS to grow your business – 12 hour online course throughout September 2020

The Flood Innovation Centre is offering an exciting opportunity to book onto an interactive workshop programme designed to support companies working with and implementing SuDS.

You’ll have the chance to learn more about how your business can deliver SuDS solutions, improving your development proposals and making a vital contribution to managing local flood risk and water quality.

Our specialist courses are fully funded (so there’s no cost to your business) and they’re delivered online.

View the details in full  here


SparkFund ignites the imagination with KE Awards nomination

The hugely successful SparkFund project, led and managed by the University of Hull, has been shortlisted for the highly coveted KE Awards, an initiative organised by PraxisAuril, the UK’s world-leading professional association for Knowledge Exchange (KE) practitioners.

Shortlisted for ‘External KE Initiative of the Year’, SparkFund plays a key role in the University’s Knowledge Exchange strategy. The £15.2M ERDF funded Innovation and R&D project, which covers the Humber, York and North Yorkshire LEP areas, represents significant investment in the region’s economy.

The project has a distinctive delivery model as it does not rely upon the academic expertise of the University of Hull and is focussed more on unlocking the breadth of innovation and R&D potential within local SMEs. This enables SparkFund to act as a conduit between beneficiary SMEs and the KE Delivery Agent that best suits the individual needs of each SME.

In short, this means that SparkFund is the mechanism for small businesses to engage with the University of Hull, but, more importantly with a broader network of KE providers and development opportunities such as Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and Research Council funding.

Energising businesses

As the project enters its fourth year of delivery, the outputs and impact on SMEs continue to go from strength to strength. These include over 400 businesses registered, 2000+ hours of support, 155 projects approved and all to a value in excess of £5.5m.

In addition, 134 new jobs have been generated, 33 IP related projects endorsed, £34M of sales forecasted, a 200 tonne reduction in carbon emissions and the icing on the cake is the impressive profitability figure of £9.2M.

With a further two years remaining on the project, these figures will continue to soar onwards and upwards and reinforce why this scale of KE activity would not have been possible without SparkFund’s unique offering.

SparkFund is not just about the numbers; it is also about the direct and measurable impact that is felt at a personal level. Captured in the following statement from Harvey Detmar of RD Biomed; ‘The grants received through the Spark Fund enabled us to perform in-depth research and development we would otherwise not have been able to do and accelerated the development of our new products at a critical stage for our business. Throughout the work program the team at SparkFund provided constructive and proactive support and demonstrated a clear understanding of the business requirements that made the whole process run like clockwork’.

Launching new innovation and initiatives

The success of SparkFund is down to a number of important factors and these include engagement through external partners, mainly the beneficiary SMEs, but also key stakeholders who refer and signpost SMEs to the programme.

Working together, the LEPs, consultants, private providers and a broad range of companies collaborate with grant beneficiaries to deliver their approved projects. Without the positive and consistent engagement with external partners, SparkFund would not be showcasing these impressive levels of KE activity.

‘Knowledge Exchange is central to the University of Hull’s commitment to the regional economy.  It enhances the competitiveness and sustainability of businesses, as demonstrated by the outstanding outcomes of our SparkFund programme and its selection as a finalist in the prestigious KE awards.  SparkFund has a proven track record of delivering flexible and tailored support to small businesses to enable them to innovate, and we are very excited to see its overall impact and how we can embed this model in our ongoing KE strategy.’

Dave Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research / Enterprise Statement  

Independent Awards Panel of 26 leaders from across the KE and business community volunteer their time to review and assess grant applications. With no links to the University of Hull and the SparkFund team, the panel, which operates virtually, consists of members from a wide range of sectors and backgrounds.

You cannot start an idea without a spark

Innovation and ideas are the lifeblood of industry and SparkFund has proved that when you support and unlock the wealth of talent, aspirations, plans and R&D potential that exists throughout SMEs, amazing things happen.

The team at SparkFund know that one size does not fit all, and they have never worked to a formulaic and generic process. Instead, they support SMEs along every step of the journey and help them to shape and frame ideas and apply for the funding that brings incredible projects to life.

During the COVID 19 pandemic, the SparkFund team has been supporting SMEs to pivot their expertise and products to help combat the crisis. For example, they supported a Yorkshire gin and whisky distillery previously to switch production to hand sanitiser in response to the Covid-19 outbreak (

The winners of the KE awards will be announced at a virtual ceremony on 24th June 2020.

About the University of Hull

The University of Hull has a track record of supporting the growth, resilience and innovation of businesses and the regional economy.

Our Innovation Centres provide a community to support businesses of all sizes, helping to drive innovation in the areas of low carbon and flood resilience, while SparkFund is a grants programme that helps SMEs to move their business forward through Innovation and Research and Development.


For more information, contact Pauline Mitchell, SparkFund Programme Manager,