Cumbria Innovations Platform II

Work with your two local universities and benefit from a growth-boosting £5.7 million research and development support package delivered by Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria.

The Cumbria Innovations Platform (CUSP), part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund, is a research and innovation gateway which enables the county’s small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to access a unique and diverse range of technical and management expertise from the two Universities, to commercialise new products and services.

Find out more about the programme by calling CUSP Project Manager James Livsey +44 (0)1524 510332, emailing or by visiting

Support on offer includes:

The programme offers a range of fully funded services designed to help businesses at any stage in the product development cycle and includes:

  • Innovation Masterclasses and events exploring different elements of the innovation cycle, including innovation infrastructure, ideas generation, concept development, product development, commercialisation, and funding, IP and barriers. SMEs can attend all masterclasses or pick those that are of interest.
  • Innovation research projects with University of Cumbria students through internships and masters research projects provide businesses with detailed and robust research to support new product or service development.
  • Digital product development from the software development team from Lancaster’s School of Computing and Communications who offer bespoke consultancy which may include:
  • Exploration of digital solutions to solve future business challenges or opportunities.
  • Investigation of new digital products and service concepts.
  • Development of digital prototypes to assess concept and feasibility.
  • Analysis of business processes and systems to identify underused data and knowledge assets.
  • Peer-to peer Innovation Catalyst network created by Lancaster University Management School to help senior decision makers tackle the challenges facing their region, sector and wider economy. The programme will create a supportive environment where business leaders can generate new ideas, explore and test opportunities, challenge each other, and learn the tools and knowledge needed to accelerate innovative business ideas.
  • Unique access to science and technology facilities to test or develop ideas for a new product or service. The project provides access to a range of cutting-edge science and technology equipment worth more than £45 million, and bespoke consultancy to help each business progress their ideas. These include
  • Lancaster University’s £11.4 million cTAP(Collaborative Technology Access Programme) building, facilities and expertise. Facilities include magnetic resonance, mass spectroscopy, x-ray, microscopy and nanofabrication for characterisation and analysis of materials.
  • Lancaster’s Engineering Department has design, build and testing capabilities, in addition, the Department of Physics can support design, synthesis and characterisation of materials for use in new products.

Benefits of the Cumbria Innovations Platform

  • Access a unique combination of expertise and skills
  • Reduce the risk of research and development
  • Speed up innovation
  • Support the development and commercialisation of new products
  • Accelerate growth in innovative Cumbrian businesses

Building on the success of CUSPI

The first phase of CUSP, which was part-funded by the European Regional Development Agency (ERDF) and ran between 2017 and 2020, assisted almost 140 Cumbria enterprises. It generated 63 collaborative research projects, and saw companies develop 41 new products. CUSP was also selected and showcased as an exemplar project by the Ministry of Housing, Communities & Local Government.


Jo Lappin, Chief Executive of Cumbria LEP said: “The response of our businesses to the economic impact of the pandemic has demonstrated the tremendous creativity and ingenuity that exists here in Cumbria. Our businesses are increasingly looking to the future and developing new products and services to grow their businesses. The new support provided by the second phase of the Cumbria Innovations Platform (CUSPII) is therefore extremely welcome and timely, providing the necessary expert technical and management expertise to our businesses to help them commercialise their products.”

One Cumbria business to benefit from CUSP’s first phase was Agronomy Research Group Ltd. By engaging with the support offered through CUSP they have been able to develop a new mobile app to help expand their grounds-keeping consultancy work. The app enables the remote identification of grass species on land such as golf course greens – removing the need for frequent costly and time-consuming in-person visits.

Neil Baldwin, Director of Agronomy Research Group Ltd, said: “The programme was ideal for us as it enabled a product concept to be turned into reality. Without this support our company had the concept but not the expertise to develop the idea into a usable system to facilitate the growth and expansion of our business.

“I cannot speak highly enough about the enthusiasm and technical know-how Lancaster University provided and would thoroughly recommend them to any local SME’s looking to expand their business through innovative product development.”


ERDF eligible small and medium size businesses based in Cumbria with up to 250 full time equivalent employees with an annual turnover of less than £40 million. Please note that some sector exclusions do apply.

The CUSPII team can also link you up to other services across the Universities.


Free of charge to eligible businesses.

Delivered by

Cumbria Innovations Platform II is a partnership between Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria.

James Livsey, Cumbria Innovations Platform II Project Manager at Lancaster University, said: “Combining our skills at Lancaster University with the University of Cumbria provides a unique offering to help businesses across the county research and develop the products and services that will raise their productivity and competitiveness in this difficult and uncertain economic climate.”

Sarah Allison, Project Manager at University of Cumbria said: “The Cumbria Innovations Platform helps unlock the growth potential of enterprises across all sectors of the county’s economy. The programme helps businesses think about the different elements of the innovation cycle, and gain support to develop ideas into innovations. Whatever stage in the innovation cycle your businesses is at, we can help you tap into the expertise and resources of two universities to create new products and services, facilitating business growth for the region.”


£5.7m Cumbria Innovations Platform has received £3.4m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Cumbria Innovations Platform will boost economic growth in Cumbria by providing micro, small and medium enterprises with access to technical and management expertise from Lancaster University and the University of Cumbria to accelerate innovation in new products and services. The Cumbria Innovations Platform will engage with 180 SMEs and will run until June 2023.

The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.

For more information on ERDF visit

For more information on the three new projects visit

Contact Sarah Allison, Project Manager (University of Cumbria) for more information on