The Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships

The Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships (SDIPs) programme is a collaborative project between Staffordshire University and Staffordshire County Council to drive transformation through digital innovation in the region. The project is funded by the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020 and will run until December 2021.   The programme will create 36 Partnerships between local SME businesses and Staffordshire University to improve business processes and support the development of new to market products and services through the use of innovative digital technologies.

The SDIPS programme will operate across three strands: 

1) Digital Innovation Partnerships (DIPs)

An open call to businesses looking to use digital innovation to revolutionise their business. Focused on technological transformation this strand will support the development of new processes, services or products and their accompanying transformational change within the business.

2) Business Intelligence Partnerships (BIPs)

A focused strand supporting businesses to unlock the power of the data they collect. Enabling successful applicants to improve decision making by using a range of business intelligence tools and techniques.

3) Social Challenge Innovation Partnerships (SCIPs)

In partnership with Staffordshire County Council a series of local council and government prioritised social challenges will be released each year. Digitally focused entrepreneurs and Staffordshire based digital SMEs will be given the opportunity to pitch to develop prototype solutions to each challenge. Each Social Challenge partnership will also receive a grant award of up to £10,000 to further support their proposed solution

The first two challenges are open now and have been identified as:

1) Raising the aspirations of Staffordshire children and young people

We believe that every child deserves the best possible education, and to leave school or college equipped with the learning, skills and foundations to thrive throughout adulthood. We want Staffordshire to be a place where children and young people have high aspirations and expectations for their futures, they understand how they can achieve their aspirations, and are provided with opportunities to succeed.

Over recent years, we have seen a number of positive improvements in education and skills in Staffordshire. Despite this, compared to other areas, educational attainment at Key Stage 4 and 5 in Staffordshire, is overall low.

We are challenging SME’s to generate a unique digital innovation which will achieve this goal. The innovation should utilise digital technologies and platforms to provide an engaging and accessible tool for young people and/or their parents.

2) Enabling and growing social action and community support

Staffordshire County Council is committed to supporting residents to help themselves and one another to improve their communities and act on the things that matter most to them. With increasingly challenging financial circumstances, we are challenging ourselves to think ‘community and digital first’ in everything we do. Enabling and encouraging the growth of social action, and community support is key to delivering our long-term vision.

We are challenging SME’s to come up with digital innovations that support individuals, organisations or communities to grow social action and community support initiatives. For example, this could be around volunteer recruitment, set-up, sharing best practices etc.

What is included?

Focussed on innovative practices, each partnership will receive:

  • One full time student or graduate placement working in the business to support the development of the digital innovation for 24 weeks.
  • A relevant academic expert dedicating half a day each week to the business for the duration of a partnership.
  • Wider support from a number of funding specialists to ensure the project reaches its full potential and all opportunities are maximised.
  • In addition to the above, businesses taking part in the Social Challenge partnerships will also receive a grant award of up to £10,000 to further support their proposed solution.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to small-to-medium (SME) sized businesses in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area looking to digitally transform their business.

The programmes tailored support provides an excellent route for businesses that currently do not have the resources or knowledge to embed digitally innovative solutions to transform their business.

Eligible businesses must have the ability to support and host a student placement and be identified as eligible under the projects’ approved State Aid scheme.

The programme is open now and initial expression of interest forms can be found at

For more information, download the leaflet.