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News Project seeks digital entrepreneurs to solve social challenges in Staffordshire

A new project is seeking digital entrepreneurs from across Staffordshire to help solve social challenges faced in the county.

Professor Ieuan Ellis and Cllr Philip White with pupils at Cannock Chase High School
Image: Professor Ieuan Ellis and Cllr Philip White with pupils at Cannock Chase High School

In our role as a Civic University we are strongly committed to helping local businesses adapt to technological change, supporting the development of higher-level skills, and improving the health and wellbeing of local people.

Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro-Vice-Chancellor (Partnerships & Region)

Two challenges, announced as part of the Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships project, focus on growing community support and raising the aspirations of young people in the region.

The launch took place at Cannock Chase High School which is one of a number of schools embracing digital change by adopting new technologies to improve learning and attainment. This includes using software to set homework and record feedback, monitor performance and improve health and wellbeing.

Counicllor Philip White, Cabinet Member for Learning and Employability at Staffordshire County Council said: “We are challenging ourselves to think ‘community and digital first’ in everything we do. We are keen to see new innovations to encourage the growth of social action and support for members of the community, which is key to delivering our long-term vision. This could be around volunteer recruitment, setting-up groups or sharing best practice.”

“We also 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. So, we are challenging SME’s to help us achieve this goal by generating an engaging and accessible tool for young people or their parents using digital technology.”

Last year, Staffordshire University and Staffordshire County Council launched The Staffordshire Deal to improve the region’s economy and upskill the  local workforce through embracing digital change.

Now, the partners are delivering the Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships project to drive digital transformation in the region after successfully bidding for £1.24m funding from the European Regional Development Fund (EDRF).

Over a three-year period, 36 fully funded partnerships are available to support Staffordshire-based SMEs. In addition to the social challenges, partnerships are available to improve business processes and support the development of new to market products and services through the use of innovative digital technologies.

Staffordshire University is leading the project and providing each six-month long partnership with a full-time student or graduate placement, an academic expert dedicating half a day each week and wider specialist support to maximise business opportunities. Each of the social challenge partnerships also includes a £10k grant from the County Council.

Professor Ieuan Ellis, Pro-Vice Chancellor (Partnerships & Region) at Staffordshire University, said: “In our role as a Civic University we are strongly committed to helping local businesses adapt to technological change, supporting the development of higher-level skills, and improving the health and wellbeing of local people.

“The University has a rich heritage in technology and is ideally placed to drive forward the digital agenda. This project is a fantastic opportunity for academics to share their knowledge to grow and develop the skills of students, to support local businesses and to retain digitally skilled graduates in the region.”

Applications are now open for all strands of the Staffordshire Digital Innovation Partnerships. Businesses looking to respond to the identified Social Challenges have until midnight on Friday 31 May to submit an application.

To find out find out more about the project and details of how to apply please visit


*The Staffordshie Digital Innovation Partnership project is receiving up to £1.24m of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020.  The Ministry of Housing, Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations.  For more information visit

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