Knowledge Exchange for Innovation

What is KEI?

The KEI fund is designed to encourage collaboration between Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) and the University of Derby. The University is looking to support SMEs to become more innovative and realise their growth ambitions. Part funded through the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), the KEI fund will enable businesses to improve their competitiveness and productivity through utilising the knowledge, technology and skills of the University of Derby.


The KEI fund is part of the wider ERDF funded ‘Enabling Innovation’ programme which will be delivered over the period 2014-20. Enabling Innovation is a suite of support activities aimed at SMEs in the D2N2 area which has been developed in partnership with the University of Nottingham and Nottingham Trent University.

Applications for KEI projects are welcomed from SMEs across a wide range of industries and sectors.

Please note that the KEI fund is only open to Small Medium sized Enterprises (SMEs) in the D2N2 (Derby, Derbyshire, Nottingham & Nottinghamshire) area.

Who is it for?

1.Are you an SME in the D2N2 area looking to collaborate with a University?
2.Have you got an innovative idea which you would like to develop?
3.Are you interested in employing a recent graduate to deliver an innovation project?
4.Do you already have access to funds for some of the project costs?

If so, you may qualify for KEI funding.

Key aspects of a KEI project:

Each KEI project will consist of 3 key component parts: 1. The Business, 2. The Graduate (Affiliate), 3. The University (academic).

  • A recently qualified graduate will be recruited to undertake a bespoke project to identify innovative solutions to enable your business grow.
  • Businesses will also have access to University expertise as well as a 30% grant to support the costs of employing the Graduate.
  • Project length – typically 6 – 18 months.

Projects will need to include a sound business rationale, detailing why the project is innovative and what impact the KEI project is going to have in terms of business growth and expansion. For the purposes of the KEI fund, innovation is the successful development and introduction of new ideas – not just for science and technology but for all new products, new services, new ways of running business, new ways of doing business.

How to apply

For further information on how to apply and to discuss potential projects, please contact Paul Moss, Knowledge Exchange for Innovation Manager on 01332 593394 or

Visit the website at :

For more Innovation support in the D2N2 area - please see our Innovation and New Products page :

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