Co-Innovate - Business with Academia

Support for businesses based in the west and the islands

The Co-Innovate programme 'Business with Academia' brings together businesses, academic institutes and project managers to deliver a 12-month research and innovation project.

It’s designed to allow SMEs to undertake a cross-border research project to develop a new product, service or process for the business and help further develop knowledge and innovation capabilities.  

Each collaboration is designed to improve your company’s competitiveness, productivity and profitability, and you will also be supported to find the best academic partner for your project.


The current economic climate is incredibly challenging for businesses but the need to adapt and change is inevitable. Whilst that’s a worry, it can also be an opportunity and in time, open new avenues for growth.

We can help you through the Co-Innovate programme by funding 50% of a dedicated innovation project manager for a year. The position will focus on the development of a new product, service or process that will help business stability and open growth opportunities.

You will also benefit from academic input two days a month to help solve or overcome any technical issues encountered. 

The innovation project manager can be a new employee or if the business is looking at redundancies, it can be an existing member of staff as long as you can demonstrate that the position would otherwise be lost.  

Co-Innovate is a cross-border collaboration between HIE, Scottish Enterprise, Intertrade Ireland and various other border county enterprise agencies. Academic expertise to Scottish companies is provided by Irish academic institutions. This is a great opportunity to expand networks and collaborate internationally. 


The programme is open to all SMEs in the Western Isles, Skye and Lochalsh, Lochaber and Argyll and the Islands. 


Projects need to be up and running by June 2021.

Expressions of interest should be made by the end of December 2020. 

Register on the Co-Innovate website

Open call for expressions of interest

Register on the Co-Innovate website, expressions of interest must be made by December 2020..

Co-Innovate website

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How else can Co-Innovate help you?

Co-Innovate is supported by the European Union’s INTERREG VA Programme, managed by the Special EU Programmes Body and is delivered in the Highlands and Islands by HIE.

This means we can support SMEs with:

  • one-to-one specialist advice to create an innovation strategy
  • R&D grant funding to work with academia
  • R&D grant funding to collaborate with another SME

The cross-border nature of Co-Innovate means businesses have access to academic and SME expertise from the Republic of Ireland.

Tell me more about Co-Innovate

Renewable Parts

Through Co-innovate support and funding, Renewable Parts have embarked on a 12-month R&D project in support of their new Refurbishment and Innovation Centre and helping their industry work towards a greener future.

Renewable Parts
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