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[10 MAY 99] COVENTRY UNIVERSITY PRESS RELEASE
University Awarded Over 2m For Design Project

Coventry University’s School of Engineering has received funding totalling over 2 million to launch a new design project for the West Midlands that aims to benefit over 200 small and medium enterprises across the region.

Contributions to the 2.1 million project include 994,000 from the European Regional Development Fund, alongside a private sector contribution of over 354,000 from IBM Engineering Solutions, based in Warwick.

Working with the Warwick Manufacturing Group at the University of Warwick the Coventry and Warwickshire Chamber of Commerce, Training and Enterprise, and the Government Office for the West Midlands, The Design Initiative, as the project is known, will tackle three main areas.

Derek Wood Head of SME Operational Support at Coventry University explains:

"The first part of the Initiative will closely involve IBM Engineering Solutions. IBM will advise companies as to how they can gain part of the growing market in the design of trains and rolling stock for the privatised rail network.

"Design for the railways has for many year been concentrated in just a few large companies, but now the design function is being devolved to smaller companies, and this pilot programme will involve around 15 companies across the West Midlands", adds Derek.

The second part of the Initiative will develop strategies to tackle the West Midland’s ‘long tail’ of under performing traditional manufacturing firms, assisting them to create added value in their products and providing advice on diversification of products. This advice will be provided by research Centres across the University such as the Knowledge Based Engineering Centre, the Visual Information Design Centre (ViDe), and the Coventry University Centre for Integrated Design (CUCID).

Thirdly the Initiative will provide design support for new businesses, enabling bespoke design solutions to be formulated for specific products and enterprises. This will be delivered by the four Design Counsellors specially appointed as part of the Design Initiative team, along with experts from across the University’s research and design Centres.

"This really is a major project for the companies of the West Midlands, complementing a range of SME support and technology transfer projects currently involving the University. The Design Initiative will increase the number of innovative firms in the region; increase investment in research; raise the level of collaborative innovation; and help create a culture of innovation and spread of best practice; all of which are key aims under the recently published Regional Innovation Strategy for the West Midlands", concludes Derek Wood.

MORE INFORMATION:
Cyrrhian Macrae or Floyd Jebson  01203 838352

 

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CWN / Education / Universities / Coventry University / 10 May 99

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