SparkFund Independent Awards Panel - could you help to shape the innovation landscape?

SparkFund is an ERDF funded innovation and research grants programme available to small and medium sized businesses (SMEs) across North Yorkshire and the Humber sub-region. Launched in May 2017 SparkFund is designed to help SMEs to identify, nurture and embed innovation and grow their business through tailored support unique to them. Underpinned by three schemes: Innovation Vouchers, Grants for Research and Development and Low Carbon Grants for Research and Development, the programme is flexible and can support a broad range of innovation activity; ranging from ground breaking world class innovation and R&D to projects which enable individuals SMEs to make a significant change within their business but which are not new in the pure definition of Innovation. Since its inception almost 400 SMEs have engaged with the project and we are seeing an increasing level of demand as understanding of the programme continues to grow. We have a well established team and a strong pipeline of grant applications being developed placing the programme in a strong position to perform well over its remaining two years.


The Independent Awards Panel: All SparkFund Grant Applications are assessed and scored independently by the Panel which has been in place since July 2017 and has a strong and responsive membership which brings a range of knowledge and experience of innovation, key aspects of business or particular sectors to the assessment of Grant Applications. To date the panel has assessed a total of 51 Grant applications, 46 of which have been approved, 1 has not been supported and a further 4 are currently being scored. The total value of the approved applications to date is £1,708,235 which has an ERDF value of £948,223 and will generate private match funding from beneficiary SMEs of £996,395 as well as creating the potential for:

- Development of 39 new to market products/processes/services
- Development of 55 new to the SME products/processes/services
- Creation of 69 new jobs
- An increase in sales or market share in beneficiary SMEs of up to £15.5m and up to £2.9m of increased profitability
- 17 SMEs achieving a greater level of sustainability and 30 working towards greater levels of competitiveness

The Awards Panel is key to making SparkFund a success and in order to ensure we can respond to SME needs and unlock the innovation potential which exists across our target area we are seeking new members. Membership is voluntary, providing an opportunity to influence and shape innovation and research and grow a more knowledge based local economy through supporting our local businesses. We would welcome applications from individuals experienced in being on panels of this type as well as individuals who are keen to develop this skill and who have specialist knowledge or understanding of a particular sector or aspect of business.


If you are interested in helping SMEs to grow through innovation and R&D and would like to be considered as a panel member please contact either Pauline Mitchell, SparkFund Programme Manager, on 01482 466109 or Simon King, Growth Hub Manager, York North Yorkshire & East Riding Enterprise Partnership, who is the Chair of the Awards Panel, on 07889 657963, for an informal discussion.