One in four businesses supported by Activate, the Liverpool City Region’s leading support programme for the digital and creative sectors, have successfully pioneered a new innovative product or service as a result of their involvement with the programme. Activate, which is part-funded by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), helps SMEs grow by exploring and adopting emerging technologies such as artificial intelligence, big data, VR/AR, machine learning and high-performance computing. The programme, launched in November 2017, has provided fully-funded support to 46 SMEs across the City Region, a quarter of which have already turned their innovative ideas into viable products and services. Amongst those created are a first-of-its-kind AR mobile application for the hospitality industry, a smart digital multi-music instrument and a powerful market intelligence platform. A further 52 companies have signed up for support in 2019. To date Activate has awarded just under £100k of funding to 11 SMEs across ecommerce, IT, product design, music and gaming, all of which have used the capital for product development or further consultancy. The programme provides opportunities for businesses to work closely with experts at Liverpool John Moores University (LJMU), the Foundation for Art and Creative Technology (FACT) and Liverpool City Region Local Enterprise Partnership to assess growth challenges, accelerate new ideas through new technology and to launch new products or services. Over the past year, Activate has hosted 18 events at various locations to help SMEs learn about the potential benefits of working with emerging technologies and gain specialist insight from industry leaders. The events have been attended by over 700 individuals from the digital and creative industries. Phil Charnock, marketing manager at Draw & Code, said: “The consultancy support provided by the Activate programme gave us access to experts in UX design and senior marketing minds. This vital input from these experts has fed back into the commercial plan for our SwapBots toys and into the design of the game – just in time for SwapBots’ being opened up to early access players.” Jonathon Clark, business and technology manager at Activate, said: “Activate has been running for just over a year now and the sheer volume of interest that we’ve had proves just how much the Liverpool City Region needs a programme like Activate to support those in the creative and digital sectors.” “What’s more, the success that businesses have experienced since completing the programme shows how effective support and funding can be for driving business growth and how using the right emerging technologies must be central to that.” “Looking ahead at the next 12 months, our aim is to bring together more resource and expertise in areas proven to accelerate businesses growth such as data science and artificial intelligence.” To see case studies of support that has been provided and to find out how Activate can help your business growth, get in touch via its website: www.lcractivate.co.uk The programme is set to run until 2020.