Hundreds of local businesses boosted by innovation voucher scheme

George Barrett, MD of The Malted Waffle Company, and Felicity Wingrove, MD of Zen Communications, both benefited from the Innovation Vouchers project
  • The Innovation Vouchers project run by Aston University has seen 190 SMEs in the West Midlands receive a funding boost
  • 88 participating businesses benefitted from free innovation workshops held as part of the three-year scheme

Hundreds of small to medium-sized companies (SMEs) in the West Midlands have benefitted from a scheme, managed by Aston Business School in Birmingham, which has encouraged them to innovate and grow through the use of vouchers.

The ‘Innovation Vouchers’ project, which was run over a three-year period in partnership with Birmingham City University, provided 190 coupons worth up to £2,500 to SMEs based in areas covered by local enterprise partnerships in Greater Birmingham and Solihull, the Black Country and the Marches.

The funding, provided by the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF), targeted eligible companies to help them develop processes which improve their ability to bring new products and services to market more efficiently.

The scheme also offered participating SMEs the chance to attend innovation workshops, which helped them consider their own funding strategies and how best to pursue commercial finance.

Professor Nick Theodorakopoulos, Innovation Vouchers Project Director at Aston Business School, said: “I am delighted to see the project having such a deep impact on local SMEs. Their capacity to innovate and to create wealth and jobs within the region has been enhanced as a result of this project.”

One of the businesses which has benefitted from the Innovation Vouchers project is The Malted Waffle Company in Tamworth, which has been manufacturing waffle making machines since its establishment in 1986.

George Barrett, Managing Director, said: ‘The Innovation Vouchers project was a new journey of discovery and enlightenment for the Malted Waffle Company that reaped many more rewards then the efforts required to fulfil its demands’.

Another of the businesses to have benefitted from the Innovation Vouchers project is Zen Communications, based in Shropshire, specialising in strategic public relations and copyright professionals.  

Felicity Wingrove, Managing Director of Zen Communications, said: “I would absolutely recommend the Innovation Vouchers scheme, the whole team at Aston University were incredibly helpful, they streamlined our processes and they worked with us to make improvements that will help our business grow.”


Interviews available upon request with:

Professor Nick Theodorakopoulos – Innovation Vouchers Director at Aston Business School

George Barrett – Managing Director of The Malted Waffle Company

Felicity Wingrove – Managing Director of Zen Communications

About Innovation Vouchers

More information here:

About Aston Business School

Aston has been recognised once again as a leading international business school by featuring in the World Top 100 Universities for Business and Management Studies.

QS, the global university rankings authority for careers and education, recognised Aston University in the business and management category in its 2019 world subject rankings.

The ranking is calculated using a combination of measurements of academic and employer reputation. QS evaluated more than 22 million papers and produced close to 200 million citations as part of a thorough analysis to determine this year’s overall rankings. Aston University has been ranked 11th in the world for the number of citations in the area of business and management.

Over 42,000 global employer votes and 83,000 academic opinions over the last five years have contributed to QS’ latest university data report.

Aston Business School is part of an elite one per cent group worldwide to be recognised with triple accreditation from AACSB, EQUIS and AMBA for providing the highest standard of academic experience for its students.

This latest top-100 position reflects Aston University’s business studies across both undergraduate and postgraduate levels of study.

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About Aston University

Founded in 1895 and a University since 1966, Aston is a long established university led by its three main beneficiaries – students, business and the professions, and our region and society. Aston University is located in Birmingham and at the heart of a vibrant city and the campus houses all the university’s academic, social and accommodation facilities for our students.  Professor Alec Cameron is the Vice-Chancellor & Chief Executive.

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