Supporting SMEs

Supporting SMEs

NCC Connect

Whether you’re looking for expertise on a technical challenge, access to the latest technology or training to upskill your team, we can help. 

NCC Connect is a dedicated SME support team set up to ensure your business can swiftly access our resources. With a team of over 350 expert engineers and a world-class technology R&D centre, we will work with you to deliver solutions that meet your time and cost requirements.

As part of the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult, we can help you: 

  • cut production costs, energy usage and waste
  • optimise and scale your production capability and supply chain
  • improve product quality and cost
  • upskill your workforce
  • improve your access to crucial data

For your business to grow, you need to get your ideas to the right place, build the right plan for your success, and develop the right solution to deliver for your needs.

Our three-step process can help you deliver results.


Getting you to the right place

Read more about Engage


We offer free impartial advice to direct you to the right partners (both within or outside the HVM Catapult) to transform your business. 

Our manufacturing and engineering experts will explore your initial thinking with you to see if we’re the best fit to help transform your business. 

If we we’re not the best fit, we will refer you to other services that can help. 


Building the right plan for you

Read more about Discover


Building the right plan for your business is a key step, and we’ll draw upon our expertise and industry-proven experience to help you develop it.

Our detailed proposal will guide you to the best ways to improve your products, processes and skills to deliver business value. 


Enabling you with the right solution

Read more about Transform


Based on our proposal, we’ll give you access to our world-class facilities and cutting-edge equipment, working with you to develop the right solution.

Whether that’s new products, processes or skills, we deliver for your business needs to transform your bottom line, build your supply chain and access new markets.

Funding opportunities and collaboration

Working with the NCC and wider HVM Catapult could not be simpler. We can work with you and support your business through a variety of ways: from a standard contracting commercial basis through to supporting or leading bids into wider funding calls, and as a part of major collaborative research programmes. Our SME team offers dedicated support to help small businesses with innovation, giving access to our facility and expertise to increase the technology readiness level (TRL) of your products. In 2021, we secured over £7.5 million of grant funding and supported 169 SMEs. 

Find out more

Site visit

Finding opportunities in your operations

Read more about Site visit

Site visit

After your initial consultation, our experts may need to visit your facilities to:

  • find any ‘easy wins’ across your whole operation
  • assess your ability to adapt to market changes with your current setup
  • meeting your business leaders to find out more about your plans for growth. 

Discovery workshop

Building innovative ideas together

Read more about Discovery workshop

Discovery workshop

After the initial consultation, our experts may need to bring you into our facilities (either physically or digitally) to host a workshop on your business needs and:

  • find out more about your complex business challenge
  • work through your ideas using the experience of colleagues across the HVM Catapult
  • share our ideas for your business needs
  • start initial scoping of a roadmap for your business challenge

Technical Response

Access the technology and skills you need right now

Read more about Technical Response

Technical Response

We deliver:

  • prompt turnaround on technical and supply chain challenges
  • affordable access to cutting-edge technology
  • engineering consultancy from our team of over 350 engineers and specialists in composites
  • world-class R&D facilities to de-risk innovation and demonstrate proof-of-concept
  • ongoing support to scale-up production

Innovation projects

Working together to develop solutions

Read more about Innovation projects

Innovation projects

If we are the right partners for your business needs, a team of our world-leading engineers will work directly with you to research and develop the right solution for your challenge. 

There are three ways you could work with us: 

  • self-funded innovation project - the price of this support package will depend on the scale and level of complexity of your business needs, but we will help you to find some external funding for our services where possible
  • match-funded innovation project (formally SME Boost) - where your project aligns to our strategic business goals and there is funding available, we may offer an up to 50% discounted rate (or match-funding) to work with us, covering up to half the cost of our expert’s time and required equipment use
  • grant-funded innovation project - if your business challenge serves a wider industry need or policy objective of UK Government, we may offer to use our global connections across industry, academia and government to help source a group or consortium of partners for the project. 
workforce development

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

Helping businesses innovate for growth

Read more about Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

The NCC is one of 100 ‘Knowledge Bases’ established in the UK that work with businesses of any size and graduates in unique partnerships that aim to create positive impact and drive innovation for the UK. Our focus is on the SME community to embed technologies and management processes, supporting our business plan for growth. Partner businesses have access to dedicated support from the NCC as part of the KTP, as well as a KTN Knowledge Transfer Advisor.

Scientists in a lab


Custom built training plans delivered by NCC experts

Read more about Training


We offer:

  • Bespoke training and off-the-shelf courses created by the NCC and our network of training providers
  • Hands-on experience of the latest digital manufacturing technologies
  • Courses matched by topic or level of experience, from apprentices to technicians, experienced engineers to senior management
  • Courses designed for individuals, teams and companies
  • Training available at the NCC, locations across the UK, and online through our award-winning learning management system

SME Affiliate Scheme

Become a member of the NCC

Read more about SME Affiliate Scheme

SME Affiliate Scheme

SME Affiliate membership is designed to provide affordable access to the NCC capabilities, expertise, training and networks, making composite materials research and development as accessible as possible to all levels of industry.

Benefits include:

  • places on specialist training courses
  • exclusive access to networking events and knowledge sharing sessions that address industry challenges
  • exposure to other members and industry via the NCC's communication channels
  • training on the NCC’s technologies and software packages
  • bookable hot desk at the NCC’S HQ in Bristol, providing on-site access to advice from the NCC’s own specialist engineers. 

Manufacturing energy toolkit (national pilot)

Cut your energy costs

Read more about Manufacturing energy toolkit (national pilot)

Manufacturing energy toolkit (national pilot)

We are running a national pilot scheme to help you cut your energy costs and grow your bottom line. The changing price of energy, both electricity and gas, can be a major risk for your business. The HVM Catapult’s Manufacturing Energy Toolkit can help you to protect your business from future shocks.

Our experts have the experience and industry know-how to help you slash energy usage across your manufacturing process by up to 46%, helping you to make your money go further. You could save over 90% of your energy usage from a single machine.

Made Smarter

Helping you capitalise on new digital technologies

Read more about Made Smarter

Made Smarter

Made Smarter Innovation is a national programme to help businesses who make things capitalise on new digital technologies. It gives UK manufacturers access to a digital innovation ecosystem that helps prove their idea, quickly develop it with experts and scale it. The £300 million partnership between government and industry will provide match-funding, specialist advice and result in radical manufacturing solutions. Delivered by UK Research and Innovation.

News and Events

  • Farnborough
    Read more about Farnborough International Airshow

    Farnborough International Airshow

    22 - 26 Jul 2024
    The National Composites Centre will be participating in Farnborough International Airshow 2024, with the High Value Manufacturing (HVM) Catapult and its Centres, exhibiting on the Aerospace Technology Institute (ATI) stand.
  • Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
    Read more about International Composites Summit 2024

    International Composites Summit 2024

    04 - 05 Sep 2024
    Matt Scott, Chief Engineer for Capability and Vicky Summers, Principal Research Engineer for Sustainability will be presenting at the International Composites Summit (ICS). The event is considered the single place to do the most cost effective and sustainable composites business in the UK, bringing together industry leaders, researchers, and innovators from across the composites sector.
  • Marshall Arena, Milton Keynes
    Read more about Fibre Polymer Composites in Construction (FPCC)

    Fibre Polymer Composites in Construction (FPCC)

    05 Sep 2024
    Kaloyana Kostova, Engineering Capability Lead for Structural Engineering and Callum Branfoot, Research Engineer for Engineering Operations in Verification will present ‘Appropriate Testing Approach for Durability of FRP rebar in AACM concrete’ at the Fibre Polymer Composites in Construction 2024 (FPPC). They will share findings from their collaboration with the University of Bath, and be available throughout the conference to discuss your next innovation needs. 

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