Grow your business with funding, expertise and talent.

We have £9.3m provided by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) to help Small and Medium Sized Enterprises (SMEs) to develop new products or services in collaboration with universities, research institutes and the best graduate talent.

In a changing UK economic climate supporting businesses to innovate is more important than ever. ERDF funding for knowledge exchange between business and academia plays addresses this need by reducing the risks associated with innovation, increasing productivity and improving economic prosperity of our SMEs in the South East.  KEEP+ is tailored to support businesses to access the specialist expertise they need to help accelerate innovative ideas to market.

KEEP+ is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supported programme, which opened on 1st January 2017, to support Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SMEs) to access knowledge and expertise through collaboration with the University sector.

KEEP+ will provide your business with flexible opportunities for innovation, with a focus on developing new products or services, increasing profitability, reducing costs, providing opportunities to collaborate and accessing graduate talent.

KEEP+ is a partnership of seven delivery partners and is open to SMEs with their registered head office, as per its Companies House records, within England, the Programme’s core geographical focus being the following four Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas:

The KEEP+ Programme can offer your company expertise you do not already possess and in the case of KEEPs (see below) that expertise will be embedded into your organisation for future use and benefit.

The range of interventions below can cover a wide variety of business needs and scenarios, subject to assistance from the European Regional Development Fund:

  • Knowledge Exchange and Embed Partnerships (KEEPs) – a three way collaboration between a business, a University and a graduate employee who will work with the business to achieve agreed goals (Limited capital funding may also be available to support the approved collaborative activity).
  • Research and Innovation Collaborations (RICs) – a collaborative research and development activity for projects requiring more feasibility work and greater levels of research support than a KEEP (Limited capital funding may also be available to support the approved collaborative activity).
  • Innovation Internships – a 12 week placement within a company enabling graduates to work in a role aligned with their qualification, and giving businesses access to the expertise needed to bring their products or services to market.

Depending on which part of the KEEP+ Programme is best suited to your needs, by accessing the programme your business will benefit from:

  • The ability to access academic experts and gain the services of an enthusiastic graduate to spearhead your project and grow your business
  • Obtaining access to and greater awareness of potential markets for development of your business
  • Receiving assistance for the development and design of new products/services
  • Increasing your competitive advantage
  • Potential to increase your profitability
  • Accessing support for innovation and business improvement
  • Exploring new ideas
  • Bringing new knowledge into your business

The KEEP+ Programme is a match funded activity, with part of the cost of each activity being met by the European Regional Development Fund and part by the beneficiary SME. SME match funding contributions are generally 50% for revenue costs and 70% for capital costs.

Some business sectors are exempt from support under the European Regional Development Fund, those are;

  • primary production, processing and marketing of agricultural goods.
  • fishery and aquaculture
  • coal and steel
  • shipbuilding
  • synthetic fibres
  • schools
  • statutory services
  • healthcare
  • banking and insurance
  • retail

The KEEP+ Team will be happy to discuss which of the programme offers is best suited to your business needs in more detail, via the contact page.

If you have any questions for our Delivery Partners, please fill out the contact form.

Factsheets with further information for SMEs, potential interns and associates can be downloaded in pdf form here:

Am I an SME?

KEEP+ is a European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supported programme, which opened on 1st January 2017, to support Small and Medium Sized Businesses (SMEs) to access knowledge and expertise through collaboration with the University sector.

KEEP+ will provide your business with flexible opportunities for innovation, with a focus on developing new products or services, increasing profitability, reducing costs, providing opportunities to collaborate and accessing graduate talent.

KEEP+ is a partnership of seven delivery partners and is open to SMEs with their registered head office, as per its Companies House records, within England, the Programme’s core geographical focus being the following four Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas:

The KEEP+ Programme can offer your company expertise you do not already possess and in the case of KEEPs (see below) that expertise will be embedded into your organisation for future use and benefit.

The range of interventions below can cover a wide variety of business needs and scenarios, subject to assistance from the European Regional Development Fund:

  • Knowledge Exchange and Embed Partnerships (KEEPs) – a three way collaboration between a business, a University and a graduate employee who will work with the business to achieve agreed goals (Limited capital funding may also be available to support the approved collaborative activity).
  • Research and Innovation Collaborations (RICs) – a collaborative research and development activity for projects requiring more feasibility work and greater levels of research support than a KEEP (Limited capital funding may also be available to support the approved collaborative activity).
  • Innovation Internships – a 12 week placement within a company enabling graduates to work in a role aligned with their qualification, and giving businesses access to the expertise needed to bring their products or services to market.

Depending on which part of the KEEP+ Programme is best suited to your needs, by accessing the programme your business will benefit from:

  • The ability to access academic experts and gain the services of an enthusiastic graduate to spearhead your project and grow your business
  • Obtaining access to and greater awareness of potential markets for development of your business
  • Receiving assistance for the development and design of new products/services
  • Increasing your competitive advantage
  • Potential to increase your profitability
  • Accessing support for innovation and business improvement
  • Exploring new ideas
  • Bringing new knowledge into your business

The KEEP+ Programme is a match funded activity, with part of the cost of each activity being met by the European Regional Development Fund and part by the beneficiary SME. SME match funding contributions are generally 50% for revenue costs and 70% for capital costs.

Some business sectors are exempt from support under the European Regional Development Fund, those are;

  • primary production, processing and marketing of agricultural goods.
  • fishery and aquaculture
  • coal and steel
  • shipbuilding
  • synthetic fibres
  • schools
  • statutory services
  • healthcare
  • banking and insurance
  • retail

The KEEP+ Team will be happy to discuss which of the programme offers is best suited to your business needs in more detail, via the contact page.

If you have any questions for our Delivery Partners, please fill out the contact form.

Factsheets with further information for SMEs, potential interns and associates can be downloaded in pdf form here:

Am I an SME?

How can KEEP+ support me?

Opportunities for SMEs Opportunities for Universities and Research Institutions Opportunities for Graduates

Live Opportunities

Universities and Research Institutions can find details of current live tenders here:

View All Opportunities
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