Halton companies can now access funding and support as part of a new scheme designed to drive innovation.

A partnership between the University of Liverpool, Liverpool John Moores University and Edge Hill University has launched to support business innovation across the Liverpool City Region (LCR).

The new £5.1m Horizons programme, funded by the LCR's £44m UK Shared Prosperity Fund allocation, will support more than 100 small and medium enterprises in its pilot phase. The partnership aims to deliver industry-leading innovations across six boroughs - including Halton - providing the expertise, facilities, and funding businesses need to drive innovation.

Launched by Liverpool City Region Mayor Steve Rotherham, Horizons is the first innovation support programme in the city region funded by the UKSPF and will prioritise supporting businesses providing sustainable practices and technologies.

SMEs can also apply for capital grant funding to further accelerate innovation and drive long-term success across communities and businesses, and support the upskilling of their staff.

Steve Rotheram said: “SMEs really are the cornerstone of our business community.

"Together, they account for a massive 99 per cent of all businesses in our region and have a crucial role to play in helping to diversify our economy.

"Fortunately for us, we’re home to some of the country’s leading universities, who possess the expertise and world-class facilities that can really help our SMEs to unleash their full potential."

Professor Andrew Levers, Executive Director of the Institute of Digital Engineering and Autonomous Systems (IDEAS), added: "The University of Liverpool has set out a clear and compelling vision for regional impact under our Liverpool 2031 strategy.

"Horizons will help deliver our vision to drive prosperity in the city region by bringing the benefit of our ground-breaking research to local businesses and helping to ensure that the next generation of world-changing innovation is translated from research to industry by local SMEs."

To find out more about Horizons and to apply for support, visit www.lcrhorizons.co.uk