Innovation Support

Innovation Support, Commercialisation & R&D

Lancashire is home to a wide range of innovation-led support services and R&D assets which work with businesses to drive growth. These include university knowledge transfer programmes and government-backed initiatives like the Made Smarter advanced manufacturing support scheme.

There are also several schemes designed to help you upskill your workforce and tap into new talent through apprenticeships and work placements, while Lancashire’s Boost service offers a comprehensive suite of tailored business support provision.

If you are looking specifically for innovation finance support, visit our funding and finance section here

Two Zero

A specialist support service funded by Lancashire County Council, Two Zero helps and inspires business leaders to grow their business, create jobs, and support the wider Lancashire economy. Through a range of programmes on specific sectors and topics, it provides one-to-one advice, educational content and focused peer-to-peer learning. The aim is to help scaleup founders develop a growth-focused mindset, upskill their workforce, and establish a sustainable business platform which they can build on. More details here.

Edge Hill University

Edge Hill University’s SME Productivity & Innovation Centre (PIC) opened in 2017 to address demand to identify support growth in scaleup potential Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs).  PIC delivers research-informed programmes which align to the regional and national agendas to boost productivity and build an innovation-led economy. The flagship Innovation Sprint is endorsed by the Scale Up Institute for delivering high impact growth. The PIC also acts as a gateway for SMEs to access a range of expertise and engagement opportunities with the University. More information here.

Lancaster University

Based in north Lancashire, and consistently ranked in the top 15 in major UK league tables, Lancaster University has an extensive business growth, commercialisation and Knowledge Exchange offer. Home to the Health Innovation Campus, The Data Cyber Quater and many other specialist research facilities – Lancaster has an outstanding track record in collaborating with industry on high-growth, high-value projects in sectors such as cyber, health and net zero.  In addition to support for regional innovation and entrepreneurial leadership, it has built more than 11,000 SME partnerships and injected almost £1/2bn into the regional economy, creating 900 full time jobs through business innovation collaboration programmes.   Find out more here.

University of Central Lancashire

Located in the heart of Preston, the University of Central Lancashire has a significant business support, ideation and commercialisation programme. The University supports industry-led degree apprenticeships, develops Knowledge Transfer Partnerships and delivers CPD programmes with employers. Academic experts support innovative businesses through consultancy and contract research. Further, the University of Central Lancashire is home to R&D assets and programmes including the Engineering Innovation Centre, the Centre for SME and Enterprise Development, and the Lancashire Universities’ Innovation Programme. The Enterprise and Engagement Unit (EEU) provides a front door for these services and offers guidance and connections to the wider university. Find out more here.


RedCAT is the Lancashire Centre for Alternative Technologies. A not-for-profit organisation, and developed and led by the East Lancashire Chamber of Commerce, RedCAT provides a pathway of financial and R&D support to accelerate the commercialisation of innovative and disruptive low carbon technologies.

With a commitment to champion the development, funding, and commercialisation of Clean and low carbon solutions, RedCAT supports and complements the Chamber Low Carbon pan-Lancashire support programme which provides support to Lancashire SMEs wanting to transition to net zero. It also hosts regular peer-to-peer events as part of its RedCAT Network programme. For more information on RedCAT click here.

AMRC North West

AMRC North West, based in Samlesbury, is part of the University of Sheffield Advanced Manufacturing Research Centre (AMRC), a cluster of world-class centres for innovation and research into advanced manufacturing technologies.  Research and development is accessible to any manufacturer driven by the goal to increase innovation across the wider region, working closely with extended SME supply chains. To find out more about the work of AMRC North West click here.

Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub

Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub supports Lancashire residents and businesses with skills and employment resources and information. It signposts employers to fully funded employee training programmes, offer guidance on apprenticeships, and gives access to the latest employment data. It also engages with businesses via its Skills Pledge Tool, which acts a great entry point to the Hub’s wider offer.

Several Hub initiatives are designed specifically to boost STEM and digital skills. These include the Digital Skills Partnership, which brings together public, private and third sector organisations to address local digital skills needs, and the Lancashire Careers Hub – a partnership of over 150 schools and colleges across the county which collaborates with business partners, the public, and education and voluntary sectors, to help improve careers outcomes for young people. More information on Lancashire Skills and Employment Hub can be found here.

Boost; Lancashire’s Business Growth Hub

Boost is Lancashire’s Growth Hub. Committed to helping Lancashire businesses thrive, Boost’s support is designed to enable ambitious and innovative Lancashire firms to start, grow and scale. Innovation-specific activities to support start-ups, scale-ups and early-stage companies include the Scale to Thrive and Flying Start programmes, while for more established businesses they offer the Growth Catalyst initiative. In addition, Boost offers free business support and business advice services, and host a wide range of networking events, workshops and masterclasses. Guidance on innovation finance and funding is also available.

More details of Boost’s full range of services can be found here.