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Frequently asked questions

What is Eco-Innovation?

All new products and services developed by the centre via collaboration and mentoring to eligible businesses will by nature of their design, manufacture, raw materials or use, offer significant, measurable improvements against existing products in terms of the emission of greenhouse gases, use of natural resources and/or waste minimisation and re-use.

What kind of support can I get for my business from the centre?

Commercialisation support

Business mentoring is available through our specialist commercialisation consultancy partner Inventya Ltd It is designed to offer your business support in how to develop a new idea and take it successfully to market. The support may consist of market research, guidance on access to new markets, access to finance, the development of export markets etc. It is quite likely that your initial contact will be with the project team at Inventya.

Register now

Research & Development support

Research support is delivered through the universities in 3 different but complementary ways.

The centre supports 50 long term (3 year) collaborative research projects.

  1. Intensive collaborative (3 year) projects of research have commenced with 50 of the region's most ambitious businesses. These projects are now fully recruited are in progress and are listed under the supported projects section. If your business could collaborate to work with the businesses engaged on these projects we would be pleased to hear from you. Contact:
    There are 100 further opportunities for SMEs to draw upon the academic expertise of the two universities. Do you have a research project you have never had the time or resource to address? Use the staff and students of the universities to develop and deliver the project with you. To apply for this support, register your business and your project now.
  2. One year full time research projects with a dedicated graduate researcher, to form the basis of a submission for a Masters by Research qualification. These projects typically need to start in the Autumn of 2014 and submission of project ideas is required well before this date.
  3. Shorter research projects are delivered either as:
    • A piece of research delivered “in curricula” leading to the production of a report or dissertation which also forms a core part of an undergraduate or postgraduate degree. These projects are supervised by an academic at the university but can only be delivered at certain times in the academic calendar. Typically the research can be undertaken over a 3-6 month duration and last up to 600 hours.
    • An internship, in which the researcher is paid to deliver the project outside the demands of their course. These do not need to conform to the academic calendar, and as a result can be delivered in more flexible timeframes. Typically delivered over a three month period and of circa 140 hours.

Specific details of each scheme is given on the key information tab and you are encouraged to read this particularly to decide which type of support is most appropriate for your business.

What is the timeframe?

Support for business mentoring can commence after you have registered your business. First we will establish that you are eligible to receive support and then will meet with you to agree the work to be undertaken and what it is you wish to achieve.

If you wish to register a research project, this will be assessed for its eligibility and then we will need to find the appropriate fit with the right university partner, the right department, academic expertise and students.

Delivery can only be achieved at certain points in the academic cycle, so you do need to understand that this project may time to pull together and up to 18 months before a final report is prepared. The earlier you can register a project the better!

How can I find out if my business is eligible for support from the centre?

The centre supports high-growth Northwest companies that recognise the need for innovation and have identified growth opportunities for their business through the development of new products, processes and services for the global marketplace that have positive environmental benefits.

For more information on which companies we can support please view our page on eligibility.

Will support from the centre cost my company anything?

The project is funded through the European Regional Development Fund, which supports the management and operation of the project.

There is no cost to the business for the support delivered through the business mentoring support and analysis work to be provided through Inventya Ltd. However there is a limit to the free support which they can make available and this will be explained to you at your initial meeting.

Similarly there is no cost to you for the time of university personnel. If your research project requires the building of prototypes or extensive travel for testing, it is expected that the business will cover the cost of these specific project related expenses.

The long term full time collaborations do have a cost of supporting the researchers' tuition fees. The cost to the business for the available 1 year Masters by Research positions is set at £2000, payable on commencement of the project.

Does support under the Centre for Global Eco Innovation have any State Aid implications?

Yes - the value of any assistance delivered through the Centre for Global Eco Innovation constitutes State Aid as defined under Articles 87 and 88 of the Treaty of Rome and is granted as de minimis aid. European Commission rules prohibit any undertaking (SME beneficiary) from receiving more than €200,000 of de minimis aid over a rolling three year period. Any de minimis aid granted over the €200,000 limit may be subject to repayment with interest.

Therefore any support delivered under the Centre for Global Eco Innovation to an individual SME is dependent in part upon the beneficiary not exceeding a threshold of €200,000 of de minimis aid in any three-year period.

If you have received any de minimis aid over the last three years (from any source) you should declare this on application with details of the dates and amounts of aid received.

For three year research collaborations the estimated value of support provided to the business is in the order of £130,000. (approx. 150,000 euros).

For the 1 year full time Masters by research projects the estimated value of support provided to the business is in the order of £42,000 (approx. 50,000 euros)

Please contact us directly if you want further guidance on state aid implications.

How is the company involved in recruiting a suitably qualified candidate?

Research projects once accepted by the university department and matched with a suitably qualified academic for project supervision are offered to suitably qualified candidates to undertake the actual research and delivery of the project.

Full time one year projects leading to a Masters by research are advertised externally and the business fully involved in the interview process. Shorter projects are advertised internally to the existing university student body and interviews and project allocation is normally undertaken by the university staff to ensure the most suitable match.

This is a competitive process, and ultimately there is no guarantee that each and every project will find a suitably qualified applicant. Businesses are encouraged to write their project proposal in such a way as to make the project attractive to the best candidates. Unfortunately there is no guarantee that all projects can be matched with a candidate.

Will the company have full commercial rights to use of the IP generated by collaboration?

Yes. For the three year intensive research projects and the full time 1 year Masters by Research projects, the funding which is being used to support collaborative projects requires the participating university to take ownership of intellectual property arising out of collaborative projects. Access to this IP will be provided, via an exclusive, royalty-free licence to the participating company. This exclusive and royalty-free license will apply for as long as the rights are in existence, providing the university partner is satisfied that the company is exploiting the intellectual property. If following an initial period of four years the company cannot demonstrate use of the IP in a new product or service development, the licence will terminate.

Background intellectual property of any collaborating party will remain the property of that party. Its use in collaborative projects will be provided on a royalty-free basis. No project will be developed using background IP already licensed exclusively to a party outside the project.

The shorter term research projects (of up to one year) are much more likely to be based upon incremental development of existing background IP. In these shorter term projects delivered through an internship or in curricula project any developments of the IP will be assigned to the company.

The terms and conditions of use of IP are incorporated into the terms and conditions of a contractual agreement between the participating company and the participating university, so there is no lack of clarity about these issues.

Will a company's ideas for new projects and services be kept confidential?

Yes. Only a summary of the project on the full application form will be made publically available. The project partners will not however sign non-disclosure agreements with partner companies.

What is the process?

To register for commercialisation support and shorter term research projects follow the information and links at Business: Register Now

Can a university spin-out company or a company wholly or partly owned by an academic be a company partner?

Yes, but individuals with such interests must declare these on the full application and take no part in the consideration of projects proposed including a company in which they have an interest.

Can a company who has worked with a university before propose a collaborative project?

Yes, but the full project proposal application must clearly articulate how the proposed collaborative research project is different from previous work and what it achieves which is not be possible without support.

Can an academic member of staff supervise more than one project?

Yes, but the intention or wish to do so must be declared in the full application form and by doing so the academic staff member will take no part in the consideration of any projects in which they are a named supervisor.

Can more than one company work together on a collaborative project?

Yes, but one company must take the lead role in the project proposal and make arrangements with the partner company with respect to the exploitation of the projects results.