The Enabling Innovation: Research to Application (EIRA) project is coming to its 3 year conclusion. Here, we tell the story of its impact and legacy.
What was EIRA’s aim?
EIRA has been a ground-breaking, cross-consortium, multi-disciplinary collaboration involving 7 partner Higher Education Institutions; University of Essex (lead institution), University of East Anglia, University of Kent, University of Suffolk, Norwich University of the Arts, Writtle College and Harlow College. It aimed to enable innovation, move research to impact, enhance collaboration and increasing economic growth and business productivity in the Eastern England region through nine interventions from 2018-2021.
Who did it support?
The EIRA interventions successfully supported businesses of all different types and sizes in the East of England, with the greatest uptake being via the region’s micro and SME sector.
What impact did it have overall?
Through the three core themes: Artificial Intelligence, Biotechnology and Digital Creative, the EIRA project has had a demonstrable economic impact in the region. Throughout the consortium, the programme has engaged over 550 students, 107 academics and 231 Kent businesses, and over 180 staff have trained in commercialisation and knowledge exchange across the network.
What impact did it have on the University of Kent?
Proof of concept funding was awarded to three projects, each representing a different core theme. As well as specific intervention funding for academics and academic collaboration funding (via the innovation vouchers and R&D grants), 16 academics from Kent benefitted from Early Career Researcher Training, which enhanced their skills in communication, commercialisation and collaboration. Links between academics, the Directors of Innovations in each school, and the Heads of Schools, have been strengthened, and academic staff have been keen to showcase projects and impact through showcases, webinars and networking events.
How did it benefit Kent students?
The EIRA programme had a variety of interventions for students, to enhance key business skills and provide finance for innovative business ideas. Over 160 students benefitted from the project interventions, and the hope is that the learnings and finance provided will support the students at the start of their careers and act as a springboard into impactful future business communications and activities.
What is EIRA’s legacy?
EIRA leaves behind a lasting legacy that will be felt across the consortium. The benefits of EIRA have included the sharing of best practice and academic expertise across this network and the use of joined up approaches to issues faced by numerous business across the region. By enabling collaboration, we have been able to offer support with the right academic teams across our network to get the absolute best out of the academic expertise in the geographic area. We have established a wider innovation network to stimulate growth and connections in research, which has increased opportunities for commercialisation. For the consortium members, the strength remains in the Eastern Arc partnership, as well as stronger relations made with KE teams between the HEIs.