About RISE

Innovate and progress your business with support from RISE

By working with university partners through the RISE project, small and medium sized enterprises can now benefit from fully funded, research-led advice and innovation support.

Our mission is to help local businesses take charge of their innovation, capitalise on new opportunities and become more productive, competitive and resilient.

The RISE project was established to provide an open door for Sussex-based small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to access support from two of their main local research and innovation-led universities: University of Brighton and University of Sussex.

RISE aims to share the wealth of knowledge and expertise on your doorstep in Sussex to support our business community to meet economic challenges and adapt to shifting market conditions.

RISE – Research and Innovation in Sussex Excellence – is a completely free-of-charge innovation service for eligible businesses due to funding from the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF), with support from West Sussex County Council and the West Sussex District and Borough Councils.

picture of University of Brighton cockcroft building set against blue sky and framed by trees picture of University of Brighton cockcroft building set against blue sky and framed by trees

Universities of Brighton (left) and Sussex (right) are recognised for their contributions to supporting regional and business development and developing new technologies to support innovation.


RISE offers SMEs a chance to experience how knowledge exchange with university partners can develop their business capabilities, make valuable connections and solve innovation challenges. Our intensive innovation and growth activities include innovation audits, workshops and training, along with access to specialist expertise from within the universities, at no cost to SMEs.



The benefits of being a member of RISE include:


• a free in-depth business diagnostic to help you develop your innovation approach,
• a knowledgeable innovation partner who can act as coach and advisor,
• expert guidance in research and development, helping you improve processes, products and services,
• training, funding and networking opportunities through the RISE portal.

Who is eligible?

RISE intensive support will focus on businesses based in West Sussex, with an emphasis on rural West Sussex, coastal West Sussex and the Crawley/Gatwick Diamond areas. All SMEs from across the region are welcome to join the network as either members or friends of RISE, depending on their eligibility for the full level of support.

Find out more about what’s on offer and our eligibility criteria via our Frequently Asked Questions.

Visit FAQs


RISE Innovation Advisors are here to support you through strategy and goal-setting activities. They will link you to the universities, helping you to access expertise and resources.

Zoe Webb

Zoe Webb

Innovation Advisor

Mark Hadley

Mark Hadley

Innovation Advisor

Lorraine Bell

Lorraine Bell

Head of RISE

Project Partners

Three project partners each bring essential resources and expertise to the RISE project:

University of Brighton

The University of Brighton applies its research and knowledge to attain practical goals and real-life solutions for real-world challenges. We have a successful history of working with businesses through a combination of research and innovation expertise, world-class facilities and funding support to help you transform your business. We help organisations of all sizes to develop products and ways of working that boost profitability, efficiency and innovation. Our recent Knowledge Exchange Framework score demonstrates we provide excellent impact for our local community and industry partners. Our Knowledge Exchange programmes continuously produce excellent results for businesses.

University of Sussex

University of Sussex researchers are collaborating with companies and industry on real-world challenges, covering a wide range of applications, including battery sensors, healthcare innovations and machine learning. Sussex also has strengths in the social sciences, notably in Development Studies, where Sussex is considered a world leader. These strengths have supported innovation in areas such as low-carbon energy systems and sustainable energy products. We are skilled in providing in-depth analysis and insight, academic consulting and partnering and securing grant funding. Many of our academics are working closely with business to develop and commercialise their research.

West Sussex County Council

West Sussex County Council is committed to supporting and championing the economy of our area. One of our key priorities is to ensure that West Sussex has a sustainable and prosperous economy, and for the county to thrive we know we need to support our businesses to innovate and grow. As Strategic Partner for RISE, we are enabling the delivery of enhanced access to high quality innovation support to local businesses.



The RISE programme is receiving up to £620,000 of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020 in England. Grant Reference: 04R21P04430.


The European Regional Development Fund aims to strengthen economic and social cohesion in the European Union by correcting imbalances between its regions and focuses on a number of thematic priority areas. Two of these areas are:


• Innovation and research
• Support for small and medium-sized enterprises


ERDF funding will cease in the UK by the end of 2023. ERDF is supported by and managed in the UK by the Ministry of Housing of Communities and Local Government (MHCLG).

Local Authorities

The West Sussex Councils are providing partnership funding to support the delivery of RISE, and through this, to provide help and support to SMEs in West Sussex.


The universities of Brighton and Sussex each contribute staff time and resources to the project.