Mentoring and funding support from the National Aerospace Technology Exploitation Programme is helping SMEs flourish – with a little help from the industry’s big players.

Harriet Wollerton, Programme Director for NATEP, said the £20m programme, which seeks to develop 80 aerospace technologies across the UK aerospace supply chain, had already achieved “many successes”.

Part of that is down to collaborations with the likes of Airbus, Rolls Royce, GK, and Leonardo.

“What the big companies like about small companies is their ability to be agile, to move quickly. And to develop technologies quickly,” she said.

Supporting the supply chain

NATEP supports the UK aerospace supply chain to develop and exploit the new technologies which will enable them to grow their businesses with UK and export customers.

The programme enables collaborative projects through expert mentoring, networking, customer guidance and grant funding.

How NATEP works

Explaining the role of NATEP further, Wollerton said: “What we’re trying to do is help SMEs who aren’t experienced in R&D funding, they’re not used to bidding into Innovate UK and the like, and they’re not used to managing a programme in R&D. And we have technology managers around the UK, who support that initial concept.

“We can help build a consortium, we can help to write the bid, we can help you submit into Innovate UK, once it gets there. It’s assessed by independent assessors, but once you’re awarded funding, we help you through the delivery of the project. And we hope to introduce you to potential customers at the end.”

The proof of the pudding is always in the eating, and Wollerton said there were numerous success stories that showed NATEP could make a difference.

“We’ve supported over 150 projects since the programme started in 2012,” she said. “And there were some really good technologies, some of them will be shown at the airshow.”

For more information about NATEP’s funding for aerospace SMEs , click here

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