New aerospace support programme offers Midlands SMEs innovation grants worth up to £100K

Tuesday, 08 December 2020

The University of Nottingham and the Midlands Aerospace Alliance are delivering the Aerospace Unlocking Potential (Aerospace UP) Programme, providing support to the aerospace supply chain in the Midlands region.

Aerospace UP is a three-year programme, supported by the European Regional Development Fund, which aims to help small and medium-sized companies (SMEs) unlock their innovation potential.

This support package includes £5.4m to provide individual innovation grants of between £1,000 and £100,000. The grant application process is currently open for new submissions from SMEs across eight Local Enterprise Partnership Areas in the Midlands.

In addition to financial grants, companies eligible for the Aerospace UP programme can access world-class facilities, technology experts and events at the University. They will also benefit from fully-funded technical support packages as well as student and graduate placement opportunities.

“Our vision is to give companies access to world-class innovation. Ambition should not be limited to size and by giving smaller businesses across the aerospace supply chain access to the UK’s best facilities and expertise, and the opportunity to collaborate and share challenges, we will help create a vibrant ecosystem in our region that will be perfectly placed to respond to new opportunities.”
Professor Pat Wheeler, from the Institute for Aerospace Technology at the University of Nottingham

Professor Dame Jessica Corner, Pro-Vice-Chancellor for Research and Knowledge Exchange said: “The Aerospace Unlocking Potential project builds on the University’s existing work with companies in the local aerospace supply chain to drive technological advancement towards cleaner, greener air travel. The project will provide much-welcomed support to the regional industry cluster in the wake of the pandemic and ensure the UK remains a key player in European aerospace innovation.”

It is hoped that by assisting small supply chain businesses to grow, by providing the tools and support needed to do so, the programme will form a critical part of the recovery of the Midlands aerospace cluster, which is one of the largest in the world and greatly impacted by the pandemic.

“This is a programme that meets a real need and fills a real gap in the UK’s Industrial Strategy to boost levels of innovation at the many firms that make up our country’s excellent regional business clusters. With the Covid-19 crisis creating major challenges for many aerospace suppliers today, Aerospace UP grants of up to £100,000 will help companies invest in new ideas and become more competitive to be ready to take full advantage, winning new business, when the industry recovers.”
Dr Andrew Mair, Chief Executive of the Midlands Aerospace Alliance

Companies do not have to have a particular project in mind to make an application, as the Aerospace UP team can assist with identifying opportunities. However, it would be useful to consider ideas around greener technologies; improving efficiency; evolving in anticipation of future market requirements; solving quality or delivery issues as well as other manufacturing challenges.

Interested companies should visit to find out more information about the project, eligibility requirements and how to apply. A virtual “Aerospace UP Supply Chain Funding Event” is planned for 11 February 2021. Details will be made available on, as well as,


Story credits

More information is available from Professor Pat Wheeler on 0115 951 5591 or or Emma Lowry, Media Relations Manager (Engineering) on or 0115 84 67156.

Notes to editors 

The Midlands Aerospace Alliance

The MAA represents one of the largest aerospace clusters in the world, supporting over 300 companies. The Midlands is home to over one quarter of the UK aerospace industry, 7% of Europe's and 3% of the world’s. The region is a leader in advanced aerospace manufacturing. The cluster’s contribution to the economy is driven by global demand for high-technology aero engines, complex aircraft systems and precision-engineered components for aircraft manufacturing giants such as Airbus and Boeing.

European Regional Development Fund

The project (either has received or is receiving up to) £10m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government (and in London the intermediate body Greater London Authority) is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

Midlands Engine

The government is committed to making the Midlands an Engine for Growth in the UK, increasing economic growth and improving the quality of life for everyone. The Midlands is home to over 10 million people and over 780,000 businesses. Its economy is worth £217.7 billion. Alongside over €750 million of European Regional Development Fund support for businesses and communities across the Midlands, the government has awarded £1.9 billion in three rounds of Growth Deals. To gain wider promotion, enlisting the help of Local Enterprise Partnerships and other local partners who support the development and promotion of ERDF projects would be encouraged. Collaborate with these partners to maximise the reach and impact of ERDF- funded projects. Please contact your contract manager, or the MHCLG Growth Delivery Team for more information.

Aerospace UP Eligibility Criteria

To access support from Aerospace UP you must be an SME (fewer than 250 employees, a turnover of less than €50m, or a balance sheet total of less than €43m) located in one of the following area: Black Country, Coventry and Warwickshire, Greater Birmingham and Solihull (includes northern Worcestershire), Stoke and Staffordshire, D2N2 (Derby and Derbyshire, Nottingham and Nottinghamshire), SEMLEP (Northamptonshire, Bedfordshire, Northern Buckinghamshire), Greater Lincolnshire (includes Rutland), Leicester and Leicestershire. Please visit to check which LEP area your company is based in.

Emma Lowry - Media Relations Manager Engineering
Phone: 0115 846 7156
Location: University Park

Our academics can now be interviewed for broadcast via our Media Hub, which offers a Quicklink fixed camera and ISDN line facilities at Jubilee campus. For further information please contact a member of the Press Office on +44 (0)115 951 5798, email

For up to the minute media alerts, follow us on Twitter

Notes to editors:

The University of Nottingham is a research-intensive university with a proud heritage. Studying at the University of Nottingham is a life-changing experience and we pride ourselves on unlocking the potential of our students. We have a pioneering spirit, expressed in the vision of our founder Sir Jesse Boot, which has seen us lead the way in establishing campuses in China and Malaysia - part of a globally connected network of education, research and industrial engagement. Ranked 103rd out of more than 1,000 institutions globally and 18th in the UK by the QS World University Rankings 2022, the University’s state-of-the-art facilities and inclusive and disability sport provision is reflected in its crowning as The Times and Sunday Times Good University Guide 2021 Sports University of the Year. We are ranked eighth for research power in the UK according to REF 2014. We have six beacons of research excellence helping to transform lives and change the world; we are also a major employer and industry partner - locally and globally. Alongside Nottingham Trent University, we lead the Universities for Nottingham initiative, a pioneering collaboration which brings together the combined strength and civic missions of Nottingham’s two world-class universities and is working with local communities and partners to aid recovery and renewal following the COVID-19 pandemic.

More news…

Media Relations - External Relations

The University of Nottingham
C Floor, Pope Building (Room C4)
University Park
Nottingham, NG7 2RD

telephone: +44 (0) 115 951 5798