Lancaster University extends business support programme

SMEs across Lancashire are to benefit from a £2m extension of a successful Lancaster University Business Support programme.

Steve FishAround 130 business across the North West are to benefit from a 12-month continuation of the ISIS programme, which is run by the School of Computing and Communications, based in InfoLab21, Lancaster University’s ICT centre of excellence.

ISIS aims to help North West SMEs identify and utilise digital technologies to develop innovative products and services - increasing levels of investment in the region’s ICT sector.

The project funds a team of recent graduates of IT disciplines to offer short term consultancy services such as research into new technologies, proof of concepts, ICT Strategies and infrastructure development, as well as mobile and web technologies.

Steve Fish, head of business partnerships and enterprise at the School of Computing and Communications, said: “The programme is a great way for the region’s SMEs to access basic IT support to ensure they have a presence in the digital age. It is also an excellent way of providing real-world experience for graduates, which helps them to demonstrate their employability in a competitive jobs market, as well as boosting the region’s technical skills base.”

ISIS has run since the end of 2009; assisting 293 companies and helping generate 185 new jobs and safeguarding 900 existing positions. 76 graduate interns have worked on the programme to date, with all of them finding employment following their time on ISIS. In addition, several of these graduates have gone on to form their own IT businesses.

“ISIS has already made a significant impact on the regional economy and it is great to be able to continue this good work and help more North West SMEs,” said Steve. “Lancaster University recognises the huge importance of SMEs in our economy and ISIS is one way the School of Computing and Communications is able to help boost companies of this size, resulting in more jobs and wealth.” ISIS is part funded by the European Regional Development Fund with matched funding from Lancaster University. The ERDF have invested a further £1m to extend the programme for an additional year.