Skip to page content
Projects Map


Innovation and Knowledge Exchange (KEEP+)

KEEP+ is a £6m European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) supported programme, providing grants to assist small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to develop innovative new products and services.

In partnership with six institutions KEEP+ provides flexible opportunities for knowledge exchange, capital grants for equipment purchase and funding for third party consultancy.

KEEP+ is open to SMEs with their registered head office within England, as per Companies House records, with the programme’s core geographical focus being the following four Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas:

  1. Cambridgeshire, Peterborough and Rutland (Cambridgeshire and Peterborough Combined Authority)
  2. Hertfordshire (Hertfordshire LEP)
  3. Suffolk and Norfolk (New Anglia LEP)
  4. Essex, Kent and East Sussex (South East LEP)

What does it offer?

Knowledge exchange

Knowledge Exchange and Embed Partnerships (KEEPs) – A three way collaboration between a business, a university and a graduate employee who will work with the business to achieve agreed goals.

Research and Innovation Collaborations (RICs) – A collaborative research and development activity between a business and an academic/research institution for projects requiring more feasibility work and greater levels of research support than a KEEP.

Innovation Internships – A 12 week placement within a company enabling graduates to work in a role aligned with their qualification, giving businesses access to the expertise needed to bring their products or services to market. The business will directly employ the candidate for the duration of the internship, part funded by KEEP+ to a maximum of £2,828.


Stand Alone Capital Grant – Up to 40% funding* towards the cost of equipment purchase to contribute to the significant technological advancement of your new product or service. This grant is capped at £9,999 for small grants or £59,500 for large grants and excludes VAT. Purchase of non-specialist items (e.g. company vehicles, furniture, standard software) cannot be funded.

Grants for Consultancy Support – Up to 40% funding* towards the cost of fast track assistance to contribute to the development of your project. This grant is capped at £9,999 for small grants and £59,500 for large grants and excludes VAT. All third party support must provide significant expertise to help your business on its innovation journey, contributing to the development of a new product or service.

* Reimbursement of grants to part cover the cost of any equipment purchases or consultancy services will be made following the provision of proof of purchase of items/services. SMEs will be asked where possible to obtain three quotes for any purchases.

Business eligibility

To qualify for KEEP+ funding, your business will need to meet certain eligibility requirements outlined by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The KEEP+ team will help you to ascertain your eligibility for the programme, but in the first instance an eligible company will need to:

  1. Be considered as an enterprise – an enterprise is “any entity engaged in an economic activity (the sale of products or services at a given price, on a given/direct market), irrespective of its legal form”
  2. Have its registered head office, as per its Companies House records, within England, the programmes core geographical focus being the four Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) areas of SELEP, Cambridge and Peterborough Combined Authority, Hertfordshire and New Anglia.
  3. Employ fewer than 250 persons (including full/part-time/seasonal employees, owner/managers, secondees)
  4. Have either an annual turnover not exceeding 50 million euro, or an annual balance sheet total not exceeding 43 million euro as evidenced by last approved annual accounts or in the case of new businesses by a declaration from the SME containing a bona fide estimate of future turnover (exchange rate to be used is 1 euro = 0.78 pound sterling)
  5. Be no more than 25% owned by another company

There are some industry sectors which are ineligible for ERDF funding. Visit the Keep+ website for full details.

How to apply

If you are a business

Contact the KEEP+ team or your local delivery partner. The first step in the process of benefitting from KEEP+ is to make sure your business is eligible for the programme.
The KEEP+ team will discuss your requirements and confirm you meet the European Union SME eligibility.

If you are an academic

Talk to your Research or Knowledge Exchange Office and line manager to inform them that you are interested in taking part in the KEEP+ programme.

If you are aware of a business with a potential project in mind which might benefit from KEEP+, contact your Research or Knowledge Exchange Office in the first instance to make them aware.

The business will need to make contact directly with the KEEP+ team to confirm its eligibility for the programme, and independently conduct a process of formal procurement to recruit its knowledge base.

If you are a graduate

If you are qualified to at least undergraduate level, enthusiastic and driven to succeed, you may be eligible to take part in either a KEEP or Internship. Opportunities will be advertised when they become available on both the KEEP+ website and through relevant universities and research institutions.

Find out more

To find out more about how the KEEP+ programme can help your business, contact the team or your local delivery partner:

Carole Randall – KEEP+ Programme Manager
Tel: 01245 684310

Cheryl Cook – KEEP+ Marketing and Administration Manager
Tel: 01245 684207

Kayleigh Parkes – KEEP+ Project Finance Coordinator
Tel: 01245 684985

Delivery partners

The KEEP+ Delivery Partnership is a collaboration of the following institutions who work together to promote the programme.

Anglia Ruskin University

University of Brighton

University of Essex

University of Greenwich

University of Hertfordshire

University of Suffolk

European Regional Development Fund (ERDF)

For more information on ERDF funding visit WWW.GOV.UK/ EUROPEAN-GROWTH-FUNDING


European Regional Development Fund

The South East LEP has been given an indicative allocation of £74.1 million of ERDF for projects to support Jobs and Growth in our area. The funding is focussed as follows:

  • Support for Research and Innovation (priority axis 1)
  • SME Growth and Competitiveness (priority axis 3)
  • Shift Towards a Low Carbon Economy (priority axis 4)

Find out more here

Return to EU Projects