Leeds SME secures funding thanks to Nexus and LEP partnership

Leeds-based Research Toolkit has secured grant funding for new product development as it reaps the benefits of Nexus’ strategic relationship with the West Yorkshire Combined Authority and Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership (LEP).

The research and evaluation firm, which was set up by Dr David Wilkinson in 2005, and moved to Nexus last year, is currently developing a new platform to connect young work experience seekers with potential employers.

The new online interface, which is set to launch in early 2020, will match the interests and skills of students to available work experience opportunities, in order to ensure that both the student and the business receive the maximum benefits from the work placement.

The platform – which provides easily accessible and precisely tailored information on available opportunities – will be 30% funded by the LEP Access Innovation programme, through the European Regional Development Fund and 70% self-funded by Research Toolkit.

Dr David Wilkinson, Founder of Research Toolkit, said: “One of the main drivers behind our move to Nexus, was to access the first-class business support services offered by the Nexus team and collaborators such as KPMG and the LEP. Our collaboration manager, Dr Harrison Evans, has made some vital connections for us and was instrumental in securing our LEP funding. It is these introductions and opportunities that show Nexus is serious about supporting innovation and business growth. It’s not just lip service – they are constantly adding value for their members.”

Helicopter view of Leeds City skyline

Dr Evans added: “Nexus is all about connecting businesses with the right resources to help them thrive and this collaboration with the LEP is just another example of the partnerships we put in place to support our members’ growth. We’re all firmly committed to supporting start-ups and SMEs and hope to support many more members, like Research Toolkit, in the future.”

Roger Marsh, OBE, Chair of Leeds City Region Enterprise Partnership said: “I’m delighted that the LEP has funded over 60 innovation projects, supporting SMEs to develop new products and processes and to build more sustained collaborations between SMEs and our research base.

“Innovation is a key factor in accelerating economic growth across the region and the launch of our Connecting Innovation initiative next year, will allow us to help more SMEs to receive the right support at the right time. I’d encourage all businesses to get in touch with the LEP to talk through innovation support tailored to SMEs.”

Research Toolkit is the latest member to benefit from Nexus’ strategic relationship with the LEP. The collaboration gives start-ups and SMEs access to the LEP Growth Service through a dedicated Growth Manager, whose role is to understand the challenges and opportunities of their business and better connect them to the wealth of support and funding available.