Innovation studio
ATI News


22 March 2023

For the last three years, Acceleration Through Innovation 2 (ATI2), the successive project of ATI, has been delivering business innovation support across Cornwall and the Isles of Scilly (CIOS).   

As the ATI2 project comes to its conclusion, we, like all projects funded by the European Regional Development Fund, are subject to undergo an independent evaluation to assess the overall impact of our business innovation support and services (April 2020 – March 2023). 

The assessment was conducted by S4W, who provide specialist research and intelligence analysis for summative assessments, and 49 ATI2 clients completed the survey and/or underwent telephone interviews – thank you to all those that took part. 

Below, we have compiled a summary of ATI2’s Impact and ERDF Summative Assessment findings. Please note that the ERDF Summative Assessment figures are represented as of January 2023, however, the project is ongoing until the end of March 2023 – therefore, forecast and actual figures at the time of the assessment have been indicated. Actual figures are likely to surpass those projected. 

If you have any questions in relation to the summative assessment, please email 


Key Facts and Figures 

  • In total, ATI2 engaged with 514 small to medium-sized enterprises and provided support to 366 Cornish businesses* 
  • ATI2 worked intensively with 135 businesses, who received a bespoke package of support for their particular innovation project. 
  • As a direct result of the innovation support provided, 36 ‘New to Firm’ products were brought to market* 
  • As an indirect result of ATI2 support, 38 new jobs were created* 

*based on current projection. 

“All the leads and all the support we’ve had has been massive for us. We are feeling now that we are in a good position and a lot is down to the information we’ve had from you [ATI2]. It’s been really helpful for our business”Debbie Pearce, Director at Assentech 

Image 1: Debbie Pearce, Director at Assentech, and Ewart Cox, Managing Director at Assentech, with their innovation. The mobile testing rig allows operators to test their storage tank valves are working at optimum capacity and in accordance with industry standards.

Funding Innovation Support

The ATI2 Innovation Fund awarded £510k in grants to 52 businesses, supporting innovation projects with a total value in excess of £1m. 

Eligible businesses were able to access specialist consultancy support (if there was not available expertise within the University of Plymouth), a small grant (100% funded) for projects of between £1,000 and £1,500 and grant support of up to £25,000 from the Innovation Fund (50% funded) to reduce the financial risks associated with pursuing innovation and help transform their ideas into reality. 

“To put it bluntly, we wouldn’t have been able to develop this project without the assistance from ATI2. It’s a new area for us, it’s outside our current core practice, in the sense of developing this new model, and with the financial support through ATI2 we’ve been able to actually undertake the development. The match funding that we have received has been great and it’s a project that wouldn’t have gone ahead without it”– Dr. Geoff Adderley, Senior Engineer at Paterson & Cooke. 

Image 2: Steve Wislon, Director (left) and Dr. Geoff Adderley (right), Senior Engineer at Paterson & Cooke, showcasing their new modelling tool for mining backfill recipes.

“The financial support has been a lifeline to help with the purchasing of the canning machine, particularly in winter, a period which is always a tight couple of months for us and has been made even tighter with another lockdown” – Nick Sales, Co-Founder of Black Flag Brewery 

Pop-Up Innovation Centres 

Despite the Covid-19 pandemic, 5 Pop-Up Innovation Centres were opened across the County as part of ATI2’s outreach activities, and to engage and support businesses throughout Cornwall. These were launched in Launceston, Hayle, Truro, St. Austell and Wadebridge. 

Image 3: Pop-Up Innovation Centre Co-Ordinator, Paul Miles Rogers.

“The World changed in 2020 as more businesses migrated online and learnt to operate virtually due to Covid. As we came out of lockdown and we re-opened the Pop-Up Centre, like many other face-to-face businesses, we wondered if people would return. We found they did return and to build that confidence we used technology to provide a live video tour of the Pop-Up Centre and put measures in place to reassure those seeking to use the facilities.

The Pop-Ups success has come despite recurrent lockdowns and around 30% of activity, which would usually have taken place in the Pop-Up, was now being delivered online. In some towns, businesses returned and even exceeded our expectations. For example, Launceston, which we revisited 4 years after our first visit, has become the most successful and most used multi-functional Pop-Up Centre of the whole 6 years of ATI.

In Launceston, we were there at the right time when the community was actively engaging, we had a visible town centre location and were able to build upon the local connections made previously. To all those who presume “the high street is dead”, what we actually found was that our high street locations resulted in four times as many Pop-Up enquiries when compared with an off-the-high street location”, said Pop-Up Innovation Centre Co-Ordinator, Paul Miles Rogers.

The Pop-Ups provided businesses and partner organisations with meeting and events space, hot desks, facilities (Wi-Fi, photo studio and 3D printing) and incubation workspace, to support and engage SMEs locally.  

“The Pop-Ups are very useful, meeting there is a great excuse for networking. Especially for people like me, who usually work from home. It’s good to get out the house, to increase productivity and bounce ideas around with other innovators” – Sam Baynham, Director of Conex Portal. 

In total, we welcomed 613 business attendances at the ATI2 Pop-Ups. This is as a result of events, walk-ins, meetings and hot-desk bookings, all of which encouraged collaboration between businesses, one-to-one business support, as well as useful signposting to other support providers in the county. 

“Without ATI2 I wouldn’t have heard of these schemes, it’s opened a lot of doors and accelerated me months ahead of what I could achieve on my own– Alice Harper, Founder & Director of Harper’s Health

Image 4: Alice Harper, Founder of Harper’s Health, exhibiting her new Indonesian inspired snack range called Tempiii.

Research & Innovation Support 

To support the initiatives of those SMEs and their innovation projects, ATI2’s Innovation Research Champion compiled 43 research reports. These provided businesses with additional resources and insights into a wide range of areas, such as: market research, proof of concept, life cycle assessments, legislation and regulatory standards, supplier packaging, materials research, and much more. 

“The work undertaken by ATI2’s Innovation Research Champion was absolutely instrumental to the project. It helped me demonstrate the need for the app and then sell that need to the stakeholders to generate necessary investment and buy-in” – Jo Murray, Founder and Managing Director of My Coast. 

Image 5: Rachel Roach (right), ATI2 Business Innovation Advisor, and Jo Murray (left), Founder and Managing Director of My Coast. 

“The support has enabled us to gain access and expertise into knowledge areas that we weren’t aware of, specifically with the way that the government is changing their approach to land use and the support for farmers,” - Matthew Elmes, Co-Founder of the Far Out Thinking Company. 

“Our feedback on the product is very much in line with the market research we did with you [ATI2], so that feedback has proved invaluable” – Iain Brunt, Director at Aegis Veterinary Technology Ltd 

Knowledge Sharing & Engagement Events 

ATI2 delivered a total of 57 events throughout its three-year duration. Comprised of a mixture of Innovation Surgeries (workshops), conferences, knowledge sharing and networking events. Each event was designed to enhance knowledge surrounding key areas of innovation, as well as engage businesses, and provide collaborative opportunities. 

In total, around 845+ people have benefitted from attending our in-person and online events. By far the largest event was the Innovation for Business Conference (2022), which welcomed around 100 businesses and whereby 83% of delegates stated that the event exceeded their expectations. The prestigious event made its return following a three-year hiatus (due to the Covid-19 pandemic) after the inaugural conference which was held at Scorrier House in 2019. 

The Cornwall Innovation Club (run in collaboration with the Cornwall Chamber of Commerce), which was later re-branded as The Knowledge Exchange, was another regular event in the ATI2 calendar. As the only fully subsidised business member’s club in Cornwall, the bi-monthly club accounted for 44% of all ATI2 event attendance. 

“The access to the knowledge base is incredible. As we grow as an organisation we are constantly going to maintain our head office in Cornwall, so any access to knowledge and any assistance with applying for finance or grants is huge for the company and enables us to achieve things that we wouldn’t have otherwise been able to” – Ian Dibb, Managing Director at Keylu 

Image 6: Ian Dibb, Managing Director at Keylu, displaying his new digital platform.

ATI2 Summative Assessment Findings 

  • 94% of businesses stated that ATI2 had a positive or significant impact on innovation and growth within their business. 
  • 84% of businesses stated that the innovation project had helped future-proof their business and made it more resilient. 
  • 77% of respondents stated that the programme had made the business a better investment proposal. 
  • 75% stated that ATI2 support had improved the business’s long-term performance. 
  • 62% of businesses stated that the innovation support had improved business productivity. 
  • Businesses were asked to score the quality of the support they received across the different elements of the project out of 5. All elements scored in excess of four, highlighting the overall high quality and bespoke offer of delivery across ATI2. Areas of particular note includes support from the Innovation Advisors (4.5), support from a specialist or consultant (4.6) and support from an Innovation Champion (4.47) 
  • After engaging with the ATI2 programme, 83% of businesses said they are now more aware of the support offered by the University of Plymouth. 
  • Almost 40% of businesses that responded stated they had engaged with the wider staff team, facilities and academics at the University of Plymouth as part of their support from the ATI2 programme. Beneficiaries scored the quality of support they received when engaging with the wider University of Plymouth academics, staff and facilities very highly at 4.4 out of 5. 

“We wouldn’t have pursued this project without ATI2 and the University’s support. One reason is capacity. Because of the [Covid19] crisis, we’ve had to make redundancies and management has been really focused on keeping the company afloat. So, to do what we have done in a period of considerable uproar is really a major achievement” Tim Smithies, Chairman at Cornwall Ferries. 

Image 7: All aboard the St. Mawes Ferry with Cornwall Ferries, who are showcasing their new ‘smart’ ticketing system.

“The main purpose of the robot was to improve health and safety, to automate the process and make it more efficient so that we can put our people onto other jobs. So, we haven’t actually made anyone redundant, we’ve actually taken more people on in the last couple of months because of the increased workload” – Mark Weedon, Director at Daften Die-Casting 

Image 8: Mark Weedon (left), Director at Daften Die-Casting, and Sam Weedon (right), Mechanical Engineer at Daften Die-Casting, demonstrating their new robotic deburring cell to increase productivity, consistency of product quality and improve employee safety.

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