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InfoLab21 Strategic Innovation Support Programme (ISIS)

ISIS provides objective advice, support and appropriate ICT solutions to SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) throughout the Northwest, making business changes to minimise cost and maximise the benefits from ICT. ISIS aims to raise levels of ICT investment across the region, supporting ICT Investment by working with businesses to break down barriers to ICT investment and promote ICT products and services. ISIS is the first project of its kind in the UK and is delivered under the “Transformational ICT” product, part of the Government’s Solutions for Business portfolio, a highly targeted, publicly funded suit of products and services offering solutions to real business needs.

Scope/Activity

ISIS provides objective advice, support and appropriate ICT solutions to SMEs (Small & Medium Enterprises) throughout the Northwest, making business changes to minimise cost and maximise the benefits from ICT. ISIS aims to raise levels of ICT investment across the region, supporting ICT Investment by working with businesses to break down barriers to ICT investment and promote ICT products and services. ISIS is the first project of its kind in the UK and is delivered under the “Transformational ICT” product, part of the Government’s Solutions for Business portfolio, a highly targeted, publicly funded suit of products and services offering solutions to real business needs.

The product provides free expertise for 270 Small and Medium Enterprises (SMEs) that can identify a significant opportunity to develop and transform their businesses through ICT in the following areas: Prototype Development, Mobile & Wireless Technologies, Software Development, IT Strategies, Audits & Infrastructure Development, Research Into New Technologies, Ecommerce & Web Applications.

What it involves;

Places are limited to 270 SMEs over 3 years across 5 sub-regions that fit the eligibility requirements above and have one of the following business needs:

1. Prototype Development: For businesses that have indentified market opportunities through new product development but do not have the time or resources to invest in taking their ideas forward provided.

2. Mobile & Wireless Technologies: For businesses that lack up-to-date, specialist expertise on mobile and wireless technologies such as RFID, Bluetooth, 3G, WIFI, WIMAX and GPS but want to use these technologies or develop new solutions for mobile devices, or for utilising wireless technologies to introduce new client services, or new ways of working within the business environment.

3. Software Development: For businesses that are unable to find the right software solution for their business, due to off- the-shelf software being too generic and not able to meet their individual business requirements, whilst bespoke software is beyond their resource capabilities.

4. IT Strategies, Audits & Infrastructure Development: For businesses that may lack ICT expertise in house, or would like a fresh view on their ICT capabilities, are not sure which new technologies to invest in and would like impartial advice and guidance on how technology is and could be used within the business to facilitate growth and future investment in ICT.

5. Research Into New Technologies: For businesses that require ICT expertise on a particular kind of new technology which they anticipate may be worth investing in to help solve a particular problem or business requirement, but it is beyond their resource capabilities to investigate further.

6. Ecommerce: For businesses who need advice and support for e-commerce implementation including investment with an appropriate supplier.

7. Web Applications: For businesses who want to change paper-based or off-line business systems to web-based business systems, businesses who want web applications developing that will help create new services for clients or improve access to information for staff and/or clients.

Eligibility

SME Size: Predominantly 10 employees or over, up to 250, 5-9 considered on a case by case basis.

SME Location: The project can assist SMEs based in the Northwest of England- ie anywhere within Cumbria, Lancashire, Cheshire & Warrington, Greater Manchester & Merseyside. Postcode restrictions no longer apply.

SME Sectors: Most sectors are eligible excluding the retail sector but the project has a specific focus on the High Growth sectors ie Biochemicals, Food and Drink, Energy & Environmental Technology, Advanced Engineering, Financial and Professional Services, Digital & Creative Industries.

Each project must have a significant impact on the business- support can only be given to SMEs that can show a clear business advantage from implementing technology in their business through increased jobs and GVA. Basic ICT solutions such as CRMs and brochure websites will not be supported.