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KTN at New Designers 2015: Part 1 - Funding

The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) recently ran a series of workshops and talks New Designers 2015 – the leading design graduate exhibition, which was celebrating its thirtieth incarnation. Over 200 industry leaders attended KTN’s talks and workshops – from Unilever and McDonald’s to IBM and McLaren Applied Technologies. This clearly demonstrated the strengths of KTN in bringing science, creativity and business together with the aim of improving the speed, quality and commerciality of innovation. Below are write-ups of two workshops which both addressed the issue of funding.
 
 
The Role of Design in GrantFunding Applications—An Applied Perspective
 
 
 
Photo credit: Mark Mackenzie
 
The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) Director Steve Welch brought his experience to bear on the grant application process, both as a software engineer and innovation manager.
 
For Welch, a key principle in any R&D project, whether drafting a funding application or developing a new technology product, is to ensure that the requirements and specifications are properly in place. A common error is for the system design to be too close to delivery, and a “left shift” is needed, in which the objectives and innovation challenges are framed at the beginning and scoped in as much detail in possible.
 
While funding programmes such as SMART can be very competitive, the truth is that a relatively small number of applications are of high quality. If you take the time to prepare a well-considered application then your chances of success are much higher. In particular, this means:
 
Having a strong opening that grabs the assessor’s attention, describes a tangible problem and provides a sense of the potential market value – without making wild projections!
Being clear in articulating the wider economic impacts – how other companies in your supply chain or sector will be able to potentially benefit.
Taking a measured approach to risk, demonstrating you have the systems and team to manage and ameliorate technical risks, but at the same time being upfront about the innovative and experimental nature of what you are trying to achieve.
Making the case for requiring public support and that for all of its potential, the project still needs funding in order to reduce risk, make the project affordable and stimulate private investment at a later stage. 
 
This article was written by Tom Campbell KTN Lead Specialist – Creative, Digital, Design.
 
 
 
Funding Clinic at New Designers
 
 
At New Designers 2015, the Knowledge Transfer Network’s (KTN) Head of Access to Funding & Finance (A2FF) Ian Tracey gave an overview of the funding and support opportunities available to companies in the UK – both public and private.
 
The remit of KTN’s A2FF team is to:
 
Help companies raise the match funding they need to secure grant funding provisionally awarded
Help organisations gain private funding, irrespective of grant funding
 
The A2FF team can provide:
 
Advice on investable propositions
Review and feedback on investment proposals
Investor readiness priming 
Introductions to investor networks suited to you
Introductions to further support-providers 
 
The A2FF team is also responsible for running the Venturefest network. Venturefest is a growing network of events across the country that brings together innovators (with great ideas looking for funding), investors (looking for great ideas to invest in), and entrepreneurs (looking to put great ideas and money together to grow successful businesses).
 
Tracey gave a live demonstration of how to make an effective elevator pitch – getting across your idea and your need in less than a minute, i.e. before everyone stops paying attention. His key features for doing this successfully are:
 
Grab attention – you need to wake up your audience so try posing a question to get them interested.
Filter – you don’t need the attention of everyone, so you can use your next line to pique the interest of your target audience. If they know they are the target audience they are likely to pay you more attention. 
Inform – you have the attention of your target audience so now is the time to tell them what you have that they want and why you are important to them.
Action –Give your audience an easy action to follow up with to create the momentum you need.
Contact details – now you have the rapt attention of the exact people you need, the last piece of information you want to leave them with is who you are and how they can contact you.
 
There are lots of support services and funding programmes out there to help take ideas and businesses forwards. For more details of the various programmes covered in this session, please follow the links below.
 
Support Services:
 
The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) – http://www.ktn-uk.co.uk
Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) – http://een.ec.europa.eu/
Catapult Centres  https://www.catapult.org.uk/
 
Funding Opportunities:
 
Innovate UK is the primary provider of innovation support for companies in the UK. They operate a range of support programmes depending on organisation type, size and need. You can search all their programmes here: https://interact.innovateuk.org/
 
 
This article was written by KTN Knowledge Transfer Manager – Access to Funding & Finance Kezia Williamson
 
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