Universitys 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
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
The second part of the Initiative will develop strategies to tackle the West
Midlands 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 Universitys research and design
"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.