Julie Baldwin |03, September, 2021
Often people who have great ideas and who want to affect change don’t really like structure. So when publicly funded projects start talking about ‘business support’ and ‘milestones’ you often just see the spark go out in the eyes of the business you are trying to help. With EPIC (and a worldwide pandemic), we had to think differently about how we should build support with the business in mind, so that spark of an idea wasn’t lost in process.
Firstly, we are real people looking to help you. Our engagement team come from industry and have either experienced the issues you face as a business or have helped others over those hurdles. So when you ask us a question, trust us, it’s not the first time we have heard it!
Secondly, our ‘business support’ isn’t structured. There is nothing more painful as a new, existing or business looking to pivot than pushing you through various stages of ‘support’ when you don’t really need it. So let’s be clear, we listen to you, offer suggestions and then we either help you, or we signpost you away… We are cruel to be kind, so if we think you aren’t ready for EPIC, we will politely tell you so.
When you are adopted into EPIC, we link you up with an academic. Don’t worry if you haven’t worked with an academic lead person before, they are actually rather nice! One of the biggest issues businesses have had is why do they need academic help in the first place. The conversation often goes “just give us the money; we know what we want to do”. Why we know academic support works is it allows your idea to grow at pace, considering all options, so you can get to market without making mistakes…and importantly start making your own money. The academic lead is there to help you meet the criteria you need to get out there. Whether that be ethics, peer review, or testing your idea in real world situations, short-term pain, will speed up your long-term gain.
And finally, money. Yes, we have it. We are giving out grants and they are quite straightforward to get. However, as explained at the beginning, if your idea isn’t quite there or needs more work, there are a wealth of European funded projects out there to help you get your plans together. We will refer you to them so that when you return to us, it is more than likely you will be ready to apply to our Challenge Fund. Money is often perceived, as a driver for growth, but EPIC is here to help your business in more ways than one. Our eHealth contacts and ecosystem, our internships and our free demonstration centre all help move your business to the next stage. So whilst the money unlocks the possible in the short term, the rest of our support helps build your business a strong foundation.
Sounds good? Yeah, it is actually, and we are currently working with over 50 unique businesses in this current support cycle. Each one of those had a different need when they came to us, which are all being supported by the team. Whether it be robotics or apps, wellbeing or care in the community, the ideas are flourishing. Several of our earliest businesses have now moved on to national funding, or have been introduced to likeminded businesses to collaborate both here in the UK and across Europe, so your journey may start with EPIC, but it most certainly won’t end with us.