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The West Midlands has demonstrated that it continues to lead the world in innovation and manufacturing excellence.

More than 150 beneficiaries of the £5.7m Advantage Proof of Concept Fund have gathered to show off their projects at the University of Warwick Science Park’s Innovation Centre, in Coventry.

The entrepreneurs, investors and professionals took part in the Advantage Proof of Concept Fund Expo 2010 to celebrate the success of the Fund which was launched by the University of Warwick Science Park in 2008 with the aim of allowing businesses to prove the viability of new and innovative products.

Despite the harsh economic climate of the past 18 months, the Fund closed on a high note after it received over 900 enquiries from businesses across the Midlands in just 12 months and funded 240 projects.

A variety of activities were funded through the grant including prototyping, registering intellectual property rights, market assessments and business planning.

The scheme provided grants of up to 75 per cent of a project’s cost - to a maximum of £30,000 - for universities and businesses to prove that their innovations have significant economic potential.

The Fund has invested in sectors ranging from medical technology to advanced materials, in both established businesses and start-ups.

Organisations have already begun to see the benefits of the scheme which has enabled companies to launch new products and safeguard jobs. It has also helped some companies to win new contracts won with major international corporations.

Projects funded include environmental technologies which harvest waste vapour from petrol forecourts, processes which can make aluminium smelting up to 15 per cent more efficient and next generation imaging technologies for medical scanning.

Unlike traditional methods of financing, companies which successfully applied to the Advantage Proof of Concept Fund did not have to repay the grant or sacrifice any rights or shareholdings, thanks to the support of the European Regional Development Fund and Advantage West Midlands.

Tom Blount, the Advantage Proof of Concept Fund manager, said: “The West Midlands has been at the heart of British innovation for centuries and the huge number of applications we received to the Fund has only further enhanced the region’s reputation.

“We are delighted to have been able to support so many exciting ideas and continue the tradition of the Midlands leading the way in developing new and innovative technology and products.

“With banks reluctant to lend to businesses, alternative sources of early stage funding have been more important in recent times than ever before, so we are pleased to have been able to assist so many businesses to develop despite the poor economic climate.”

Applications to the Fund were evenly distributed across the West Midlands thanks to the support of partners across the region, including Connect Midlands, Malvern Hills Science Park, Staffordshire BIC and Wolverhampton University.


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