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New Pathfinder grants, for companies within the construction industry

East Midlands construction companies (and other associated sectors like professional service providers or mining and quarrying companies) seeking help and funding options to help them out of the recession are being offered extra assistance, to the sum of £20,000, by the Sustainable Construction Innovation Network (iNet).

Funded by the East Midlands Development Agency (emda) the Sustainable Construction iNet normally offers only two types of funding: Innovation Support Grants and Higher Education Collaboration Grants, which are aimed at innovation support for SMEs and research and development funding for higher educational institutions engaged in similar activity.

The new ‘Pathfinder’ grants, which are funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), can be worth between £5,000 and £20,000 and are designed to allow companies to validate the market potential for products or services by external consultants, with a project span of 6 months for each grant awarded

"We’re determined to do our very best to help East Midlands’ construction companies find a way of growing and developing their business in these challenging times," says Charles Meynell, Senior Innovation Adviser at the Sustainable Construction iNet. "Our region is home to some of the most forward thinking construction companies and we’re keen to provide as much assistance as possible. But innovation is not just about big companies; these grants are available to help everyone from one or two man bands, jobbing builders through to small companies with exciting ideas on how to do things better and need help to test out their prototype or process. We want to hear from them all and have £80,000 on offer."

Pathfinder projects, which can last up to six months, need to focus on activities that gather evidence of market validation and establish the commercial opportunity for a new technology. This competitive scheme runs on an open call until December 15, 2009.

"The Pathfinder Grant is designed to help businesses to assess the size and nature of the market for their ideas, and is not intended as a capital funding programme – though IP and prototype builds will be accepted " continued Charles.

"It is vital for all businesses to have a good understanding of the potential commercial applications for their products before they are developed and the Pathfinder Grant provides funding to enable this important work to be done."

These awards are eligible to small and medium sized businesses, research and technology organisations or individuals with the relevant intellectual property protection. Pathfinder Grants are awarded on the basis that the company will provide 30% of the funding required to undertake the feasibility study, with the remaining 70% being covered by the grant.

Firms interested in applying or finding out more about the Pathfinder Grants and the other support and funding the Sustainable Construction iNet can provide should visit www.eminnovation.org.uk/construction www.eminnovation.org.uk/construction> or call 01604 892836.

The Sustainable Construction iNet was established by emda and the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The aim of the iNet is to share expertise and stimulate the research and development of new products, services and processes.

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