College to receive share of Innovation Fund

15th February 2024

Solihull College & University Centre is pleased to announce it will be a recipient of Innovate UK’s Further Education Innovation Fund (FEIF), a £7.3 million investment that will put further education colleges at the forefront of local innovation.

Colleges will establish Local Innovation Centres that will become catalysts for local business growth by engaging with businesses in key sectors of their local economies to help them understand how they can adopt innovations in technologies, business models and processes.

£2.5 million has been ringfenced for the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA) to be awarded exclusively to colleges in the region. The money will be used towards projects to support SMEs and business growth.

Colleges in the region worked collaboratively on their bid. Three consortia teams were formed, with Solihull College & University Centre and Stratford-upon-Avon College sitting in the ‘Greater Birmingham’ and the ‘Coventry & Warwickshire’ consortia. The total amount of £315,206 is derived from £187,406 Greater Birmingham and £127,800 Coventry & Warwickshire.

outside of the Business Centre
The Business Centre at Solihull College & University Centre's Blossomfield Campus

All three consortia are using the funding as a way of supporting the recently announced Local Skills Improvement Fund (LSIF) grants. It will help create momentum amongst regional employers to drive up engagement with the LSIF strands supporting electrification, low carbon construction, green skills, and digital skills.

Virtual Employer Innovation ‘hubs’ are proposed through this bid, whilst Solihull is extending the use of its physical business centre to create hybrid workspaces, networking opportunities and skills-scanning/matching services to help signpost employers to the new training courses and facilities available.

business centre atrium
Hybrid workspaces will be created for local employers

In total 9 projects, involving 33 colleges, will receive investment. In addition, the Association of Colleges and the Gatsby Foundation have identified a group of ‘Innovation Mission’ colleges, that will also be supported through the fund. Innovate UK aspires to supercharge innovation, boost productivity, stimulate economic growth, and create high-quality jobs, enriching the lives of local communities.

Vice Principal for Business Growth, Skills and Partnerships, Nancy Buckley, comments: “Collaboration between colleges in our region continues to be a successful driver in attracting investments and grants to boost our local economy. I’m particularly excited about how the funding will allow us to utilise our college’s fantastic Business Centre for SMEs and innovation businesses to collaborate, network and upskill, and signpost employers to the new facilities created by the LSIF funding.”

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