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Norfolk businesses offered AI, biotech and digital creative funding through EIRA

The power of artificial intelligence, biotechnology and digital creative will be harnessed by business thanks to a new partnership between seven universities and colleges.

The EIRA project, meaning Enabling Innovation: Research to Application, was awarded £4.7m from Research England’s Connecting Capability Fund and is now open for applications from businesses looking to innovate by working with academics.

The aim of EIRA is to drive growth and increase productivity in the East of England by transforming the way businesses connect with universities including the University of East Anglia (UEA) and Norwich University of the Arts (NUA).

Dr Karen Smith, EIRA team manager at UEA, said: “The EIRA scheme will leverage our expertise into strategic sectors for this region to help them and the local economy grow. Furthermore, the scheme will support interaction between UEA and local businesses that will result in knowledge exchange and innovations to support business growth in a skill poor region. Local companies will also benefit from the scheme helping to retain graduate talent within the region.”

With a range of majority-funded grants available, EIRA will help businesses of all sizes develop new products, services, and Support includes Innovation Vouchers to fund access to academic expertise and Research and Development Grants. More opportunities are in development, with Innovation Internships and start-up microfinance.

Partners from industry, regional membership organisations, and local enterprise partnerships strengthen EIRA’s offering. They include BT, TechEast, AgriTech East, Digital Catapult, South Essex Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP), and New Anglia Local Enterprise Partnership (NALEP).

Businesses and academics interested in accessing EIRA funding for innovative projects can find out more at www.eira.ac.uk. You can also hear Karen’s interview on Future Radio with presenter Richard Maun about how businesses can harness the research power of universities through projects like EIRA.