Skip to content

Region’s SMEs powered by University project


Two staff members stood either side of a giant wooden crate with fragile written on it

A £1.9 million project aimed at giving small and medium-sized businesses (SMEs) access to scientific equipment at the University of Bradford has been set up.

Project SIBLING (Scientific Instrumentation for Business Leadership in Innovation and Growth) will aid the research and development of SMEs based in West Yorkshire through the use of advanced scientific instrumentation at the University of Bradford.

Firms will be given access to equipment in the University of Bradford’s Centre for Chemical and Biological Analysis and Advanced Manufacturing Laboratories in its Faculties of Life Sciences and Engineering and Digital Technologies. 

The SIBLING project is being delivered by the University of Bradford and is part funded by the UK Shared Prosperity Fund (UKSPF). In West Yorkshire, the West Yorkshire Combined Authority leads the implementation of the Fund as part of the Mayor’s ambition to make West Yorkshire the best place to work, learn and live.

SIBLING will deliver 45 fully-funded research and innovation projects between September 2023 and March 2025. It will see SMEs given access to six cutting edge instruments including X-Ray diffraction, metal/composite 3D printing (additive manufacturing) and thermal analysis instrumentation.

Two staff members stood outside entrance to university building

Experts at the University of Bradford will offer help to participating SMEs with free research and innovation projects on its new and existing instruments. The services on offer in the project will also be tailored to the individual requirements of the participating firms.

SIBLING looks to contribute towards improving pride of place and boosting life chances for those living in West Yorkshire. It aims to make a difference to the participating SMEs and is also looking to hear from female or BAME (Black, Asian and Minority Ethnic) - led businesses, looking to level up equality and access for all businesses.

The project is already working with companies in sectors including manufacturing, health technology and cosmetics, but would like more firms to sign up.

The project, based in the University’s Norcroft Building, has taken delivery of some of the equipment which will be used by the participating SMEs on-campus.

Brilliant opportunity

Professor Richard Telford, Director of the Centre for Chemical and Biological Analysis at the University of Bradford, said: “We are targeting under-represented firms in the region, such as female and BAME-led SMEs.

“It is a brilliant opportunity for West Yorkshire SMEs to access equipment and expertise that we have at the University which will allow them to innovate. This in turn will hopefully see their companies develop new products and processes and provide a significant benefit to their operations.”

SIBLING will build on the success of Project CAYMAN (Chemistry Assets for Yorkshire Manufacturing), which saw 65 SMEs gain access to highly technical scientific analysis of materials that would otherwise be unavailable to them. This project lasted for four years after its success led to it being extended by nine months.

The CAYMAN team was handed the University of Bradford Outstanding Contribution to Knowledge Exchange award in February 2023.

Dr Jason Jones, Commercial Manager in the Faculty of Life Sciences, said: “The project gives SMEs a taste of the innovation culture within the university. There are so many benefits to the project including starting new company relationships.

“SIBLING will help us to expand the network of small companies that we engage with in the region and develop existing relationships. Small taster projects can lead to much larger collaborative projects.”

“We had good feedback from Project CAYMAN and SIBLING will help us to grow on that excellent foundation.”

Mandy Ridyard, Business Advisor to the Mayor of West Yorkshire, said: “Here in West Yorkshire, innovative ideas are in our DNA, from the first ever motion picture to cutting-edge advancements in video games, space travel and cancer treatment.

“Because of devolution, we are now able to go even further, with a £160m investment zone to turbocharge our digital and Healthtech businesses.

“At the same time, we are building on our other sector strengths including manufacturing, financial services, and the creative industries, to name a few.

“Working with our universities and businesses we’re co-creating a supportive ecosystem for innovators and entrepreneurs, leading to a stronger, brighter West Yorkshire for all.”

Any SMEs in West Yorkshire that wish to express an interest in signing up for Project SIBLING, can email or go to for more information.