​ALPHAS Frequently Asked Questions (FAQs)

What is ALPHAS, who can it help & how can it benefit my business?

The ALPHAS project seeks to create a conduit for Knowledge Exchange between Universities and small & medium sizes enterprises in order to solve business problems, creating capacity within the business for further employment and supporting the regional aim to retain graduate talent within the local area.

Through the ALPHAS project, we can help you secure access to:

  • Grants of 30% towards the cost of equipment or academic expertise
  • The chance to upskill current staff through a FREE 12-hour workshop programme on leadership & management, digital technology, staffing for the future and financing your own growth.
  • Academic expertise from the University of Bedfordshire, University of Northampton or The Open University
  • Funding to cover 60% of salary costs for a graduate for 3-6 months - including FREE academic consultancy, to set your plans in motion.

     

After registration, what can I expect next?

Firstly, an ALPHAS team member will call your business requesting to finalise State Aid, outstanding registration details. 

We can then begin the process of applying for your grant, MicroKEP or Workshop. 

 Please have supporting evidence ready for your follow-up call, relating to your 

  • Accounts or Business Plan
  • State Aid information (whether you have received any other government funding in the last 3 years) 
  • Environmental Policy
  • A role description for the graduate position

     

Do I have to complete my workshops before being allowed to move onto grant funding and taking on a graduate?

Yes, you will be expected to complete FOUR out of FIVE free workshops before being able to apply for grants and to continue your search for a graduate to work in your business.  

 

What is State Aid?

State aid covers any public sector grants or assistance that you may have received to support your business. Capital / Revenue grants from the ALPHAS Project are provided under the Group Block Exemption Regulations (GBER) Article 29 - "Aid for Process and Organisational Innovation". Where MicroKEPs are provided under the Group Block Exemption Regulations (GBER) Article 28 – “Innovation Aid for SMEs”. 

If you have already received more than 200,000 Euros of public support including business support/advice and grants in the last three years (the de minimis level) then you will not be able to receive a grant.  Do not include in this assessment the value of the aid you have received through the first part of the ALPHAS project.  Once again more information is available HERE

 

Capital / Revenue Grant Application Process?

The grant is a capital or revenue grant to assist SMEs implementing their Workshop Plan, to be used to develop new goods and services for market which will make the business more viable, resilient and support growth of turnover and employment. It should enable the business to become more competitive in the national and international economy.

This grant is only available to businesses who have worked with a University expert, usually through the workshop programme. Applications without the Workshop Plan, Action Plan or a completed Needs Analysis will not be accepted, but we will work with you to develop these and there is no direct financial cost to these. An applicant should discuss a grant application with the University’s Business Partnership Team. The plan may need to be updated prior to submission if the business or market has changed substantially from the date of the completion of the workshop.

The grant scheme is being run by the University of Bedfordshire as part of the ALPHAS project running across the SEMLEP area until August 2022.

Capital:

  • Plant or machinery acquisition
  • Development of a prototype
  • Diversification to produce additional and new products
  • Updates to production processes

Revenue:

  • Development and design of a new website or platform
  • Business strategy development to develop new goods and services or their market development
  • Research and development
  • Bespoke skills development from external providers
  • New software
  • Purchase of small (of less than £5000 value) pieces of equipment to increase growth and productivity
  • Personnel Costs, when a member of staff is solely employed in a fixed-term contract or seconded to a role specifically for the project. The evidence for this is very specific – the company will need to create a fixed-term or secondment contract, which details the project work to be undertaken, salary, a number of hours per week and start and end date.

     

How much can I apply for?

Consultancy, equipment, or services grant: The maximum grant value is £3,000 and the minimum grant is £1,000. The intervention rate is up to 30%. For example: if you wish to purchase a machine or consultancy for £10,000 – the grant element could support up to £3,000.

MicroKEP Grant: The grant “intensity level” is 60%. You will need to pay £5,400 to the graduate for 400 hours, this includes holiday pay, employer’s national insurance and minimal employer’s pension contribution of 3%. This works out at a minimum gross salary of £11.20/hour for the graduate.

The grant amount is a maximum of £3,240.

 

What is an MKEP?

Micro Knowledge Exchange Partnerships (MicroKEP) grant. 

This grant is a revenue grant to assist you in employing a person in your company to bring in your productivity improvements. The grant funds 60% of the salary of a graduate for 400 hours. We will help you create a job description, we will help you advertise for candidates and we will help you with interviews (if you wish).

The graduate can be from any university, and any subject discipline, provided they have graduated at any degree or postgraduate level in the past 5 years. This means they should be bringing up-to-date knowledge to your company. Graduates can help with anything from Finance and HR to product design to marketing or business development, but they cannot be placed in a non-graduate job (eg routine catering, security, cleaning etc).

 

Is ALPHAS a graduate recruitment scheme?

No, ALPHAS is an ERDF funded project that assists your business with grant funding to employ a graduate for a short time in your business. 

At the end of the 400 hours, you are free to retain the graduate or not. They work entirely for you, are line managed by you as any other employee. They will have access to a relevant academic at the University if they require advice on how to deliver what you require, this advice is fully funded by the ALPHAS project and does not require you to apply for an additional grant.
 

 

What types of roles do ALPHAS help to fill?

To name but a few: 

  • Accounts Finance Assistant 
  • IT & Website Maintenance Engineer
  • HR Associate
  • Web Developer
  • Marketing Assistant

Take a look at the example job descriptions to give you some inspiration. 
 

 

I need to speak to a human being, who do I contact?

ALPHAS Team at the University of Bedfordshire via ALPHAS@beds.ac.uk