Firms receiving mega grants from €3bn EC pot

Steve Roberts, of Tripp Design.
Steve Roberts, of Tripp Design.
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At up to 2.5m euros it is unquestionably the king of the grant schemes - and it is set to transform two South Yorkshire companies.

The European Commission’s Horizon 2020 project funds ‘high-potential’ innovation at small and medium-sized enterprises.

Fripp Design 3D printed silicon breast implant

Fripp Design 3D printed silicon breast implant

Engineering firm Cutting & Wear of Ecclesfield has received a 2.2m euro grant to develop a revolutionary oil well tool to overcome the problem of a stuck drill bit, which might be two miles underground.

Fripp Design, based in Rotherham, is applying for a 2m euro grant to commercialise 3D printing of silicon body parts - claimed to be a world first. It has already had 50,000 euros under the first phase of the scheme and hopes to get the full amount later this year.

Mark Russell, Cutting & Wear managing director, said the grant dwarfed anything they had had before.

He added: “I would recommend it without hesitation, it’s a very good source of significant funding, way ahead of anything else that is available.”

Cutting & Wear, Cowley Way. Picture: Andrew Roe

Cutting & Wear, Cowley Way. Picture: Andrew Roe

Steve Roberts, co-founder of Fripp, said they applied because funding wasn’t available.

He added: “We are a classic Valley of Death company, silicon printing is too early for venture capital funds but too rich for business angels.

“The grant is to encourage business owners to take risks they wouldn’t have without it.

“When Tom put the first sample in my hand I was shaking at the potential.

Cutting & Wear's iDisc downhole tool

Cutting & Wear's iDisc downhole tool

“Everyone who has ever seen the technology has said it is really clever.

“I was recently offered a seven-figure sum for my shares in the business, but I turned it down. I must be confident - or mad.”

The Horizon 2020 scheme has a €3billion funding pot.

It is for SMEs ‘to develop groundbreaking, innovative ideas for products, services or processes that are ready to face global market competition’.

Elzbieta Bienkowska, EU Commissioner for internal market, industry, entrepreneurship and SMEs, said: “The EU’s funding for innovative small companies is there to help them do just that – expand their reach, including internationally, or make the last steps to market for which funding can sometimes be difficult to get.”

Fripp aims to use MRI scans to print perfect replacement body parts cheaper than off-the-shelf products, resulting in shorter operations and a better fit for patients.

Steve Roberts said the breast implant market was worth £200m worldwide - yet only six standard sizes were available.

The Picsima process could also be used on a host of other parts including noses, ears and dentures.

And it uses medical grade silicon which is already approved for surgery.

Cutting & Wear is matching its 2.2m euro grant with £750,000 of its own money. A clean room will be built on site and 10 jobs will be created over the next two years.

Technical director Andy Ollerenshaw worked on the application full time for a year.

He said: “iDisc is the biggest thing to happen to the firm in 45 years.”