New Product Development

West Midlands based jewellery manufacturers are to receive support from European Regional Development Funds for new product development with the aim at increasing the number of original designs hitting the market.

150 jewellery and small product manufacturing companies will each receive practical support to help them to develop new products. Gay Penfold, manager of UCE’s Jewellery Industry Innovation Centre (JIIC), which applied for the funding, says: “This project (New Product Development- NPD) will allow companies to get involved in producing originals in a way that would not otherwise be possible. Most UK manufacturers are small and don’t have the capabilities for in-house research and design development. Successful companies are becoming increasingly aware of the need to introduce new product on a regular basis.”

The project is supported by Advantage West Midlands, the Regional Development Agency, and other Regional and National organisations who are all committed to the growth and support of companies within the jewellery, silverware and allied trades industries.

The JIIC has also teamed up with the British Jewellers Association (BJA), who will be sponsoring, as part of the project, a BJA based liaison officer to work with the JIIC based team to deliver support to small to medium-sized manufacturers (those with fewer than 250 employees). Geoff Field, BJA chief executive says: “The manufacturers can apply for aid at any stage of the manufacturing process – wherever they need help most, be it creatively or with technical processes. The project includes a dedicated design team and technicians. The idea is to achieve a slicker work-flow from design conception to production.”

Another aim of the project is to develop a regional resource which will facilitate networking between companies, associations and organisations, companies will also be signposted to further sources of support, both financial and non-financial.

The project has an overall value of £3m, and will run until December 2004. As well as access to the design team, it offers short-term loans of hardware and software and hopes to develop a regional resource, aimed at developing a network of trade support organisations.

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