University innovation scheme to boost participants’ turnover by half million

02 September 2013

University innovation scheme to boost participants’ turnover by half million

Microtech MD Chris McMail and ICE Programme Manager Janet Hamilton

Scottish SMEs who have been taking part in a university innovation scheme are on track to see their turnover rise by an average of £500,000.

Independent research has shown that The Innovation for Competitive Enterprises Programme (ICE) is on course to increase the turnover of 90 participant companies across Western Scotland, Northern Ireland and the six border counties of the Republic of Ireland by more than €56 million [£47.7 million], generate 300 new jobs, and take nearly 40 companies into new export sales across Europe by its completion in 2014.

The €2.5 million [£2.3m] tri-regional innovation programme for SMEs involves Glasgow Caledonian University, the University of Glasgow and Scottish Enterprise in the West of Scotland Region, where a total of 30 companies have been supported, mainly from Ayrshire and Dumfries and Galloway.

Evidence indicating the success of the scheme is contained in an interim evaluation which has been carried out by the independent RSM McLure Watters. The research can be accessed at [].

The research indicates that the increase in turnover attributable to the ICE Programme is likely to be in excess of €56 million [£47.7 million]. For the average company participating this is an increase in turnover of €625,000 [£538,000].

The ICE Programme uses a unique ‘learning by doing’ model to build innovation capability and capacity in small to medium-sized businesses. This involves up to 12 half days or equivalent over a year of in-house, in- depth customised support from innovation experts Team BDS, complemented by innovation workshops and technology transfer and licensing supports.

Kieran Fegan, ICE Programme Manager for Lead Partners at Dundalk Institute of Technology, said: “ICE has easily beaten its original targets. For example, the targets for the number of new products and processes introduced, the number of companies increasing turnover and the number increasing export sales have all been exceeded by a factor of four or more prior to programme completion.”

Kilmarnock-based company Microtech Support Ltd is participating in the Programme. A number of key changes and developments have taken place within the company.

  • The creation of a marketing function to foster growth activities
  •  The gradual transition of Microtech from being a software provider to becoming a software developer, which is adding and creating more value for the company
  • The development of emergent software concepts and products that will be eligible for support funding in the areas of innovation
  • The pursuit of Scottish enterprise investment to support the company’s expansion activity
  • The technology transfer of an Irish software product from Galway-based company Retail Solutions to be used by Microtech as a foundation solution for the retail sector in Britain
  • A legacy of knowledge and skills so that these innovation activities are repeatable by the company

Chris McMail, Microtech Managing Director, said:  “ICE helped us explore and access new business models and markets beyond our traditional areas.  This resulted in two way licensing agreements that are already impacting on turnover and profit.”

Máire Geoghegan-Quinn, EU Commissioner for Research, Innovation and Science has reviewed the programme. She said:"SMEs in many Member States are severely hit by the economic crisis. Helping SMEs to grow has become ever more important because we need thriving and innovative enterprises to get the European economy back on track, to provide growth and jobs."

Irene McCausland, External Services Manager in the Regional Development Centre at DKIT, said: “This programme is demonstrating an exemplar model for economically generating and protecting jobs and increasing export sales through innovation and genuine partnership. The challenge now is how we ensure that the benefits of the ICE model continue to be realised by SMEs and by the wider economy.”