Brighton and Sussex universities join forces to support SMEs

| July 2021

A new business innovation project launches this week to help West Sussex enterprises innovate using expertise from the universities of Brighton and Sussex.

The two-year project, Research, Innovation in Sussex Excellence (RISE), has been awarded funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), West Sussex County Council, and the seven West Sussex district and borough councils, to stimulate innovation-led growth, by providing targeted and intensive support for businesses.

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) will be given access to expertise to support their business innovation. Support will be given in the form of innovation diagnostics, workshops and a bespoke development programme to help companies take their business in new directions.
Eligible businesses will work with business Innovation Advisors to identify bespoke business needs and opportunities – identifying and removing barriers to innovation.

RISE is fully subsidised, providing completely free access to innovation advisors and research expertise, that can help businesses with their research and development work. This approach opens the door for more collaboration between universities and small and medium-sized enterprises in the region. The project could widen access to cutting edge technologies, skills and approaches, helping businesses to progress and grow.

Lorraine Bell, Head of Project (RISE) said: “RISE is about increasing business investment in research and innovation regionally through the development of partnerships and synergies between SMEs and the region’s two main research universities, Brighton and Sussex.”

Paul Marshall, Leader of West Sussex County Council, said: “This is a tremendously exciting initiative. It will create a support system to help small and medium-sized enterprises in West Sussex access expertise from the universities so they can innovate and grow.

“A sustainable and prosperous economy is a key part of our Council Plan for 2021 to 2025 and this project dovetails perfectly with our aim of supporting businesses to recover from the impact of the COVID-19 crisis and plan for future growth.”

RISE is being led by the University of Brighton, in partnership with the University of Sussex (delivery partner) and West Sussex County Council (strategic partner).

The RISE programme is receiving up to £603,514 of funding from the European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 in England. Grant Reference: 04R21P04430

In addition, West Sussex County Council and West Sussex Councils are also providing partnership funding to support the delivery of RISE, and through this, to provide help and support to SMEs in West Sussex.

The universities of Brighton and Sussex also each contribute staff time and resources to the project.
Find out more at or contact Lorraine Bell, Head of Project (RISE) at