Aston University Business School leads the way in propelling SME’s to innovate, innovate, innovate!


The who of who, in Birmingham’s business innovation and academia, came together to celebrate the completion of what many describe as a pioneering project, to instigate the fire of innovation in Birmingham’s SMEs. Innovation vouchers, a project created to assist business owners and fund innovation was the brainchild of academics at Aston University Business School.

Project Director Professor Nicholas Theodorakopoulos, said

“Innovation is only an idea away and we have, through our innovation vouchers program extricated the local idea pool, unleashed business desire to innovate and motivated individuals to come forward”

A selection of business owners were invited to attend a three-day workshop hosted by university professors entailing leadership, innovation and marketing; after which businesses were given the opportunity to apply for funding through a voucher system. Once the voucher was issued, the university remained in contact with the business to ensure that the voucher is being redeemed and business innovation has commenced.

Business owner and participant Sam Ammar said

“As a business owner, you know that innovation is needed to stay relevant, especially in the digital age, this workshop was a frank reminder that standing still is not an option. We have ideas but after attending the workshops, I am much more motivated to make them a reality”.

When asked why does a business need a voucher instead of the conventional route to funding, Professor Theodorakopoulos explained:

“The voucher system is a psychological imperative that we have arrived at through extensive observation. When a voucher is issued with an expiration date, business innovation moves up in the list of priorities for owners who are often overwhelmed with tasks. Furthermore, the consistent reminders and assistance by the university ensure that the business owner is continually reminded of their commitment to innovating”.

The Innovation Vouchers project assisted over 100 companies with over £240,000 of funding. The project has been at the receiving end of EU funding. It is currently unclear if this funding will be replaced, allowing the project to run for another year.