Innovation is crucial to the continuing success of any business – do something new, different or better.

North Ayrshire offers an environment that encourages innovation and entrepreneurship. We can connect you to experts and specialist programmes and identify the most suitable support.

Whether you are developing new processes, products or services, our Business Growth Team can provide:

  • Project development support and advice
  • Help to navigate the funding landscape
  • Links to appropriate departments in Higher and Further Education
  • Advice on intellectual property issues

Where to start? There are a number of Innovation support programmes available:

SFC Interface

The Scottish Funding Council offer a number of funding programmes, which are administered by Interface, to offset the cost for businesses collaborating with Scotland’s universities or further education colleges to support innovation to develop a new product, process or service for the company or to develop the company’s workforce. They include:

Standard Innovation Vouchers

Up to £5,000 of funding aimed at encouraging first-time partnerships between a company and a university or further education college. The company contributes an equal value in cash or in-kind (such as staff time, materials or equipment) or a combination of both.

  • Product/Process/Service Innovation Voucher – to support outward innovation to develop a new product, process or service – read our case study from McCormack Innovation to see how this voucher has supported the development of new wound dressings.
  • Workforce Innovation Voucher – to support inward innovation to develop the company’s internal workforce such as new or enhanced workplace processes, innovative workplace practices and innovative business expertise. This does not include staff CPD or to finance any external training courses. This is best demonstrated by James Frew who developed a new HR training tool.

Student Placement Innovation Voucher

  • Up to £5,000 to fund a PhD or Masters student to work within your organisation on a clearly defined project and continue the development of a Standard Innovation Voucher award. The company must have suitable premises to host a student for the duration of the project.

Advanced Innovation Voucher

  • Up to £20,000 of match funding to either encourage sustained relationships with academia and enable existing partnerships to continue the development of a project or for those companies who are beginning their collaborative journey with a HEI / FE college partner. The company must provide a mix of in-kind and cash contributions.

Student Projects

In addition Interface may be able to help source student projects within Business Schools and Engineering disciplines, within set timelines in the academic year.

Scottish Enterprise Innovation Service

Specialist advice available from the Innovation Team will help identify the best support available to take your ideas forward.


The Co-Innovate Programme supports SMEs and micro-businesses in Northern Ireland, the Border Region of Ireland, and Western Scotland. The programme helps businesses develop their innovation capability and help to implement enhanced R&D activity.

R&D Grant

Discretionary grants for R&D projects in excess of £100,000. Scottish Enterprise intervention rate for SME’s is 35% to 50% and for large companies is 25% to 40%.

Intellectual Property/Asset Guidance

IP specialists offer free and impartial advice to help your business identify, manage and exploit IP assets.

Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP)

The KTP scheme helps businesses to innovate and grow by linking them with an academic or research organisation and a graduate. The scheme can last between 12 and 36 months, depending on what the project is and the needs of the business.

Scottish Manufacturing Advisory Service (SMAS)

The role of SMAS is to support improvements in productivity, culture and behaviours in the manufacturing sector. Improvement projects can be tailored to solve an immediate business issue or focused on a more significant change programme.

Construction Scotland Innovation Centre

This is one of eight industry led and demand driven Innovation Centres supported by Scottish Funding Council, Scottish Enterprise, Highlands & Islands Enterprise and 14 Scottish university partners. They can provide your business with a ‘one-stop shop’ for accessing a team of experts.

R&D Tax Credits

Companies that spend money developing new products, processes or services; or enhancing existing ones, are eligible for R&D tax relief. If you’re spending money on your innovation, you can make an R&D tax credit claim to receive either a cash payment and/or Corporation Tax reduction.

For further information on what we can offer you and your business, please contact us.