Opportunities for SMEs

Why collaborate with Universities and Research Institutions?

The KEEP+ programme can provide match funded grants to access academic expertise to support you in the development of your project. Depending on which part of KEEP+ is best suited to your needs your business could benefit from collaboration with specialist academic and graduate talent for a specific project, as well as the opportunity to build links with universities and research institutions to achieve future innovation goals. Download our Knowledge Exchange Factsheet for more information

Depending on what point you are at in your project as an alternative option to a KEEP, RIC or Internship we also offer grants for equipment purchases and shorter duration business support/consultancy. Download our Capital Purchase/Consultancy Factsheet for more information.

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

If you think you may have a project which would benefit from the programme you can learn more about the how to apply for KEEP+ funding via the example below. The KEEP+ team will provide advice and support through the application steps to ensure that your journey is simple and straightforward.

Initial Enquiry

Business hears about KEEP+ and makes contact with KEEP+ Team.

Eligibility Check

Business completes SME eligibility form.  Does business meet EU SME criteria?


KEEP+ Team directs business to other sources of funding where possible.

Procurement phase

The SME produces a project tender advert against templates provided by KEEP+ Team (advertised for at least 20 days). The SME procures their knowledge base to work with.

Post procurement/pre application phase

The SME works with the procured knowledge base to draw up a project application for consideration by the KEEP+ grants panel.

Application Approval

The project is approved by KEEP+ and a Grant Agreement is issued to the SME.

Partnership provides evidence of activity as the project progresses.

Commencement of Project

Activity to develop new product/service commences.

The SME pays knowledge base directly. It is then remunerated with payments from ERDF grant on receipt of activity evidence.

Completion of project

Activity finishes, a final report is completed by the partnership and a Case Study is produced.



    Calex needed to expand its product range in order to increase its market share. The development of low carbon technologies was a key to its success.

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    Phoenix Product Development Ltd received ERDF funding to help develop and patent an innovative air flush toilet system Propelair®, using less water and energy than an average WC, is cheaper to install and more hygienic.

    Read more