Sheffield Innovation Programme and Digital Innovation for Growth

DATE: 15/17th June 2021

Sheffield Innovation Programme (SIP) and the recently launched Digital Innovation for Growth (DIfG) programme are complementary Sheffield Hallam University led initiatives which help businesses to grow through innovation; developing new products, maximising efficiencies and adopting new ways of working. Part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund, they provide access to a wide range of academic expertise and extensive university facilities, via innovation-based consultancy, workshops and webinars. Since it started in 2016, SIP has utilised the know-how of 150 SHU academics to work with more than 300 companies on a broad array of innovation-based projects. 

Support is available to eligible SMEs in the Sheffield City Region as well as NE-Derbyshire, Derbyshire Dales, Chesterfield, Bolsover and Bassetlaw with the programmes running until September 2022. 

Programme of Events

15th June provides a regional perspective on Innovation, outlining the support and funding opportunities available for SMEs. 

16th and 17th June provide an overview of the specialisms and facilities Sheffield Hallam University can offer in the form of funded bespoke research and innovation-based consultancy and gives you the opportunity to connect with academics and explore project ideas.

Meet Our Presenters and Sheffield Hallam University Research Centres

Charlotte Thompson

Digital Economy Lead, KTN

Charlotte is the Digital Economy lead at KTN, currently working on innovation networks in 5G and Immersive technologies. Before this, Charlotte was part of the investment team at KTN enabling ideas to be commercialised by blending public innovation funding with private financing. Prior to KTN, Charlotte worked in a start-up, commercialising water reuse technology for better water quality and access, and managed the UK’s CERN business incubation programme, translating knowledge from CERN’s international partners to early-stage innovative companies. Charlotte has a BSc in Economics and Masters in Enterprise from the University of Manchester. 

Dominic O’Connor

Innovation Advisor, SCR Growth Hub

Dominic has a background in academia and innovative research and development, having previously co-founded a successful university spin-out company focussing on designing sustainable building technologies. He has led the planning, submission and delivery of innovative grant funded projects exceeding £2.5million through InnovateUK, BEIS and EPSRC, working with a range of businesses from FTSE100 companies, leading academic institutions and SMEs. He has a PhD in Mechanical Engineering from the University of Sheffield, where he worked with experts in innovative design, process and manufacturing. He has expertise in advanced computational modelling and simulation, along with sustainable design and engineering.

Tom Sutton

Head of Policy & Representation, Sheffield Chamber of Commerce

Tom is Head of Policy & Representation at Sheffield Chamber of Commerce. He started at the Chamber in September 2013 as an Account Manager. During his tenure Tom has progressed within different roles. Most recently he served as Head of the Membership Team.

Whilst working at Sheffield Chamber, Tom has developed a keen interest in the policy and representation work the organisation undertakes. In his current role, he assumed responsibility for this department. Sheffield Chambers focus is on articulating a strong and thoughtful voice on behalf of its Members and wider business community. Tom’s role consists of ensuring the framework and partnerships are in place to achieve this aim. Tom is committed to making Sheffield a great and inclusive place to work and live. 

Emily Hurdley

Adviser, Radius at SHORTS

Emily works as an Adviser within the Radius team at Shorts Chartered Accountants, offering their unique service designed to help businesses claim Government-backed tax reliefs for innovation. 

Emily joined Shorts’ Radius team straight from the University of Sheffield in 2019, graduating with a first-class degree in Bioengineering. Since then, she has built up a portfolio of innovative SMEs both within and around the Sheffield Region, working alongside them to prepare their claims.

With an academic background in Science and Engineering, Emily plays an integral role within the Radius team, helping businesses to claim their full entitlement to relief. Specialising in in R&D tax relief, Emily has experience working with clients across a range of industries.   

Radius are the preferred R&D partner for the Sheffield Chamber of Commerce, and Emily works closely alongside the Chamber, helping to continue promoting and improving access to the R&D tax relief scheme for local businesses.  

The Materials and Engineering Research Institute (MERI) is a dynamic interdisciplinary research institute dedicated to addressing industrial problems through the application of fundamental science and engineering. Their experienced team has a highly successful track record applying cutting edge research to find innovative solutions to industry problems.  From material analysis to infrastructure management our solutions generate real competitive advantage. Their research and consultancy activities are supported by a large, advanced equipment base, ranging from the latest electron microscopes to high performance computing hardware.  MERI encompasses a variety of research centres and groups which enables them to focus on particular areas within the materials and engineering field.

Biomolecular Sciences Research Centre (BMRC). The BMRC has a designated commercial unit with strong industrial links, providing a range of services in bioanalysis and custom synthesis. Their research skills are utilised by local SMEs, national and international companies who access our expertise and facilities in co-development partnerships and contract research projects.  BMRC provide high-quality commercial and consultancy services, with expertise in areas including microbiology, cell culture, microscopy, organic molecule synthesis, mass spectrometry.

The National Centre of Excellence for Food Engineering provides innovative engineering solutions for food and drink manufacturers. A new state of the art facility is open housing a pilot scale manufacturing facility, high care and low care environments, engineering workshops, laboratories, specialist storage facilities including chilled and frozen, and full utility supply to equipment.

Design Futures Product is a commercially focused product design consultancy group based within Sheffield Hallam University.  Their approach is inclusive and multidisciplinary. They apply different perspectives to solve problems and exploit opportunities for their clients.  Their clients range from small and medium sized enterprises right through to large multinationals. They thrive on developing compelling products to help build commercially successful product ranges.

Design Futures Packaging are Sheffield Hallam University’s team of award-winning packaging designers, providing businesses, both large and small, with cutting edge structural packaging design, independent of manufacture with a focus on environmentally responsible solutions.  The team were voted Design Team of the Year at the UK Packaging Awards in 2015, 2017, 2019 and 2020.  You can view examples of recent Design Futures work on Instagram at @designfutures_packaging.

Barnsley Metropolitan City Council – Digital Media Centre


The Department of Engineering and Mathematics is one of the UK’s leading providers of industrially focused engineering, maths and physics education. We have a vibrant and comprehensive portfolio, strong student recruitment and some of the best teaching, learning and research facilities – benefitting from over £24m of infrastructure investment in the past three years.

The department is home to over 100 academic staff and 2,300 students across a range of undergraduate and postgraduate programmes. Both staff and students are supported by a number of engineering workshops and laboratories. We work in partnership with a number of leading organisations including Rolls-Royce, British Steel, JCB and Network Rail. Our vibrant part time provision represents our commitment to collaborative working with industry across a variety of sectors.

In the Research Excellence Framework (REF) 2014, 56% of our engineering research submission was rated internationally excellent or world-leading. One of our key strategic aims is to build on this research excellence towards an excellent REF 2021

Sheffield Business School is Britain’s largest modern business school with more than 8,000 students and a vast global reach across more than 30 international markets. SBS is distinctively modern, through knowledgeable staff with current, relevant industry experience addressing modern sectors such as banking, food, hospitality, tourism and events management. Their mission is to deliver a broad range of education and research that is informed, influenced and enriched by their relationships with industry, business and wider stakeholder community. They pride themselves on the relevance of their work and place employability and social responsibility at the strategic core of all that they do.

Sports and Physical Activity Research Centre (SPARC) is one of the largest sports and physical activity research clusters in the UK and comprises of four research groups, which carry out internationally renowned, world-class research in sport and human performance, physical activity and health, sport business and economics and sport engineering. 

SPARC facilitates collaborations across multiple disciplines to address real world research questions and to have an impact at individual, local and population levels. Its research is delivered with national and international partners, ranging from elite sporting organisations, such as Sport England, Team GB Olympic, and FIFA, to health sectors and charities, including the NHS, Department of Health, Public Health England and Macmillan Cancer Research.


The Department of Computing currently carries out research that can be categorised by four themes of excellence: People and Technology; Information, Systems and Organisations; Intelligent and Autonomous Technologies and the Digital Economy.  Under these broad themes, researchers in the Department are active in a number of areas of theoretical and applied computer science and informatics including: Ad-hoc and sensor networks, Robotics, Machine intelligence, Conceptual structures, Visualisation, Games and Virtual Reality, and Cybersecurity & Edge System Protection