Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships (SDIPs)

SDIPs aims to drive transformation through digital innovation in the Staffordshire region.

Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships (SDIPs) is a collaborative project between Staffordshire University and Staffordshire County Council; funded by Staffordshire University, Staffordshire County Council and the European Regional Development Fund 2014-2020.

The programme will create 36 Partnerships between Staffordshire SMEs and Staffordshire University. Projects will improve business processes and support the development of new to market products and services through the use of innovative digital technologies.

SDIP strands

There are three strands to Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships. Each strand will support businesses to transform by adopting innovative digital technologies.

Digital Innovation Partnerships (DIPs)

An open call to businesses looking to use digital innovation to revolutionise their business. Focused on technological transformation this strand will support the development of new processes, services or products and their accompanying transformational change within the business.

Business Intelligence Partnerships (BIPs)

A focused strand supporting businesses to unlock the power of the data they collect. Enabling successful applicants to improve decision making by using a range of business intelligence tools and techniques.

Social Challenge Innovation Partnerships (SCIPs)

In partnership with Staffordshire County Council a series of local council and government prioritised social challenges will be released each year. Digitally focused entrepreneurs and Staffordshire based digital SMEs will be given the opportunity to pitch to develop prototype solutions to each challenge.

The following challenges are now open:

Challenge 1 – Raising the aspirations of Staffordshire children and young people

We believe that every child deserves the best possible education, and to leave school or college equipped with the learning, skills and foundations to thrive throughout adulthood. We want Staffordshire to be a place where children and young people have high aspirations and expectations for their futures, they understand how they can achieve their aspirations, and are provided with opportunities to succeed.

Over recent years, we have seen a number of positive improvements in education and skills in Staffordshire. Despite this, compared to other areas, educational attainment at Key Stage 4 and 5 in Staffordshire, is overall low.

We are challenging SME’s to generate a unique digital innovation which will achieve this goal. The innovation should utilise digital technologies and platforms to provide an engaging and accessible tool for young people and/or their parents.

Challenge 2 – Reducing isolation for the elderly

Self-reported levels of loneliness are on the rise in the UK, and affect all age groups. With an ageing population, social isolation in the elderly is a significant challenge in Staffordshire. Social isolation is proven to lead to both physical and mental health problems that can, ultimately lead to reduced independence and outcomes.

With rising demand into adult social care, tightening eligibility criteria, and increasing costs, enabling people to live independently and in good health for as long as possible is key. In 2017/18, 74% of requests received by SCC for adult social care resulted in signposting or no further action. By ensuring there are a range of support networks and resources available to those people is vital to ensure positive outcomes, and potentially reduce the need for intensive support at a later date.

As a demographic that is generally less digitally enabled we are challenging SME’s to come up with a digital, innovative solution that is not only accessible to the less digitally enabled but can also help them to feel less isolated in their homes and communities. The solution could utilise existing digital platforms or be an innovation in its own right but, must demonstrate how it can help the less digitally enabled access the support they need to maintain their independence.

Challenge 3 – Improving the digital capabilities of Staffordshire citizens

Staffordshire is committed to delivering digital services that embrace the latest developments in technology, bring a better customer experience, and increase efficiencies. We understand that some of those citizens that would benefit from digital services the most are the least likely to access them. Using national research, we estimate that approximately 21% of Staffordshire’s residents are without all 5 digital skills – approx. 174,000 people. We know that one of the biggest barriers that exists is digital literacy and digital confidence.

We are challenging SME’s to come up with a digital innovation that will help those that are less digitally enabled to access digital and online services.

Business benefits

Focussed on innovative practices, each partnership will receive:

  • One full time student or graduate placement working in the business to support the development of the digital innovation for 24 weeks.
  • A relevant academic expert dedicating half a day each week to the business for the duration of a partnership.
  • Wider support from a number of funding specialists to ensure the project reaches its full potential and all opportunities are maximised.

In addition to the above, businesses taking part in the 12 Social Challenge partnerships will also receive a grant award of up to £10,000 to further support their proposed solution.

Who can apply?

The programme is open to small-to-medium (SME) sized businesses in the Stoke-on-Trent and Staffordshire area looking to digitally transform their business.

The programmes tailored support provides an excellent route for businesses that currently do not have the resources or knowledge to embed digitally innovative solutions to transform their business.

Eligible businesses must have the ability to support and host a student placement and be identified as eligible under the projects’ approved State Aid scheme.

Case studies


Philip O'Neill

Employer Partnerships Development Mgr

I work with businesses regionally and nationally, to understand their needs, and ensure they are suitably supported by Staffordshire University.

Philip's profile
Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships

Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships


This webinar is an introduction to one of our key business support initiatives - Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships (SDIP).

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