Delivered by

University of Hull

Funded until 2023 by

European Regional Development Fund

£14.5m SparkFund programme extended to boost region’s business innovation

SparkFund changes the conversation from uncertainty to the unveiling of new ideas and achieving business plans as £14.5m fund is extended to boost innovation support for the region’s small and medium sized businesses (SMEs). 

woman in white and black polka dot shirt holding white headphones

Despite the challenges presented over the past 18 months, SparkFund’s success story continues with more grants available and additional time to support SMEs in the Humber, North Yorkshire and York areas to scale-up, expand and thrive. 

And, it’s great news for SMEs already engaged. The extension responds to SMEs who require further flexibility and time to bring their ideas to life as they realise fresh opportunities and regain resource post COVID-19.  

Delivered by the University of Hull, SparkFund has transformed businesses across the region with over 2,500+ hours of support; helping firms cut costs by £2.3m, develop 87 new products and reduce carbon emissions by 305 tonnes. 

A timely boost to the local economy 

SparkFund has worked with SMEs to bring 231 incredible projects to life with a funded value of £4.1M, representing a significant boost to the region’s economy. 

Since launching in May 2017, the scheme has delivered an impressive 145 new-to firm-innovations, 130 SMEs entering new markets, created 170 new jobs and an estimated increase in profitability of £10.4m.  

The University of Hull has been recognised as a strong performer when it comes to sharing expertise to boost business and the economy. 

Dr David Richards, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Research & Enterprise) at the University of Hull, said:

“Many businesses know they need to invest in R&D, and they also know Universities could be part of answer, but the pathways to innovate and collaborate aren’t clear. 

SparkFund is one of number of innovation support programmes at the University to simplify innovation; providing invaluable academic and business support, access to funding streams and connecting them with the right partners to deliver their ambitions.” 

Igniting growth through Innovation, R&D and collaboration. 

WJ Fire Retardant Ltd developed an efficient and eco-friendly treatment to make timber fire resistant. With SparkFund support the setup of their timber treatment facility was fast tracked - equipped with highly automated processes and the latest technology to deliver the absolute precision required 

Mark Eggleston, Managing Director at WJ Group, said: Launching a new product into a market is challenging at the best of times.

"To have SparkFund support us in the earlier stages of this project was a huge help and testament to vision of your project team that understood the opportunity we had identified and helped to navigate us through the application process.  

This fire retardant project has been extremely capital intensive, banks are risk adverse and were not interested in helping us fund it, so we are extremely grateful to SparkFund for sharing our vision.”  

The eco-friendly element of their new to market product has provided the firm with a stand out USP and elevated the firm's market position. WJ Fire Retardant Ltd are on track to generate an additional revenue of £750K to the business from Fire Retardant sales during 2021. 

SparkFund was first launched after the University of Hull secured £8.4m of funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) in 2017.  

Originally due to end in March 2020, SparkFund will now continue to deliver projects until June 2023. 


It’s time to look forward 

SparkFund is ready to help businesses write their next success story.  

Get in touch with us, our Innovation Managers can discuss your ambitions either over the phone or at your premises. There is no obligation for you to take anything forward.