Frequently Asked Questions


What is innovation?

Innovation is the practical implementation of ideas that result in the introduction of new goods or services or improvement in offering goods or services.

What is open innovation?

Open innovation is a business management model for innovation that promotes collaboration with people and organisations outside the business.  

What is disruptive innovation?

Disruptive innovation refers to a process by which a new product or service creates a new market, eventually displacing established competitors.

About RISE

Am I eligible to join RISE?

RISE membership brings you and your business a range of benefits. However, to gain access to the full range of benefits you need to fit certain funder eligibility criteria.
- Your annual turnover must be less then €50m (approx. £43m) and have a annual balance sheet of under €43m (approx. £37m).
- You must have no more then 250 employees.
- Your business focus cannot be one of the below sectors
     - Fishery, Aquaculture & Agriculture
     - Banking/Finance and Insurance
     - Coal, Steel and Shipbuilding
     - Synthetic Fibres
- Your business cannot have received more then €200,000 (approx. £173,000) of state aid within the last three years.

What is RISE about?

RISE provides a platform to access innovation, knowledge and expertise from the Universities of Brighton and Sussex with help and guidance from dedicated RISE Innovation Advisors.  We also provide a programme of workshops, training, and host the RISE community enabling interaction and connection for businesses within the RISE member portal.

For more information about the project, take a look at our 'About' section.

How many workshops can a business attend?

Businesses who sign up as a RISE member can access a variety of workshops for free as part of the 12 hours of support offered. Additional workshop time may be possible if there is funding and availability.

Why Join RISE

Why join RISE?

West Sussex County Council and European Regional Development Funding is supporting local businesses to access University research and development support for free. RISE offers innovation advisory support, workshops, training, access to university specialists and membership of a digital portal with innovation tools, resources and networking facilities. This is a new offer to support businesses to grow, increase productivity and competitiveness.

There is no fee to join, nothing to pay back, no tie-in, no commitment or catch – businesses can join and benefit from 12 hours innovation support at no cost.

How do I know if I need innovation support?

Our expert Innovation Advisors offer an initial free innovation audit for your business to assess how you are currently managing innovation, exploring idea generation, strategy, prioritisation, people, culture, organisation and opportunities, challenges and capability.   

The audit will discover the strengths and weaknesses in the business concerning your processes and practices and identify best ways to improve your research and development knowledge, skills and develop your innovation potential. 

From there, we scope the support needed, and how RISE can help. For example, we may recommend attending some of our workshops or a pathway to start working directly with our university experts. We will also draw your attention to other relevant innovation programmes, funding or matching opportunities that are on offer through the universities.  

What is an innovation audit?

Our Innovation Advisors will assess how you are currently managing innovation in your business, what innovation opportunities there are, any challenges and any gaps in your business capability, particularly around knowledge and skills.   

Our innovation audit will uncover the strengths and weaknesses in your business. The Innovation Advisor will work with you on your processes and practices and help to identify the most effective pathways to develop the idea. The audit will also help to discover any potential barriers in the project’s development and identify what research and development knowledge, skill or expertise are needed to progress. 

The outcome of the audit will be a list of priority challenges and action points to consider and how RISE can assist. 

Which University will I work with?

Members of RISE can benefit from working with both universities. Workshops and training will be delivered by academic expertise from both institutions. 

Can I leave the RISE member portal?

Yes. Businesses can unsubscribe from the portal at any time. However, if businesses have taken up any of the services of the project such as workshops, access to expertise, accessing webinars or any of the innovation tools, then as the project is fully subsidised (see our about section for information on our funders) - we are required to by our funders to report on the impact and results of the support provided. We will therefore request monitoring information as detailed in our Terms and Conditions and Privacy Policy

State Aid

What is state aid?

The UK government website ( defines state aid as ‘any advantage granted by public authorities through state resources on a selective basis to any organisations that could potentially distort competition and trade in the European Union (EU).

With regards to RISE this refers to the advantage your business will receive from the specialist and intensive support delivered by the RISE programmes which you receive free of charge due to the project being funded by – European funding (European Regional Development Fund), and from funding from University of Brighton, University of Sussex and West Sussex County Councils. 

There are rules about the amount (in financial terms) that any business can gain through such support.  The present ceiling of support that any business can receive in a 3 year period is €200,000.

As RISE is part-funded by the EU we have an obligation to abide by these rules and record the value of RISE support given to each business.  Also, we have to inform you (your business) of the value you have benefitted from through participation in the RISE project.

We outline our responsibilities in the RISE Terms and Conditions which each business agrees to when joining the RISE project and activity.  The type of state aid that RISE is registered to deliver is called General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). RISE is an EU funded project and so even though the Brexit transition period has ended we are still obligated to apply the EU state aid rules until the end of the project.

If you have any further questions about state aid we advise you to seek independent legal advice and speak to your accountant on any other state aid you might have benefitted from as the RISE team is unable to provide further information to you.

How is the value of the state aid calculated?

State aid is calculated by working out an appropriate ‘market rate’ for the services provided for free through RISE.  In order to work out the market rate we researched and confirmed ‘hourly rate’ consultancy/collaborative research quotes for similar services across the universities and used an average of these rates to estimate a value. 

We submitted our average rates and supporting evidence to the Department of Levelling Up, Housing and Communities (DLUHC) and they assessed that our average market rates were appropriate to be used to value the amount of support provided by the RISE programmes.

We have three main areas where market hourly rates have been agreed:

Workshop rates - £40 per hour per business

1-2-1 specialist business advice/coaching - £144 per hour

Academic advice and expertise for business innovation development - £85 per hour

Please note this is NOT the amount of funding the University receives for the delivery of the support. The funding actually received is significantly lower but the difference is the contribution the university partners and West Sussex County Council provides to the project.

How will I know the value of state aid my business will receive?

We will provide information of the state aid value for each activity prior to the activity.  For instance, for workshops we include the value of the workshop on the event pages, sign in sheet, and we provide this on the sign up form on our website.

For 1-2-1 advice from our Innovation Advisors we provide information on the RISE website about the state aid value per hour of this service and our Innovation Advisors will highly this at the time of meeting.

For our Access to Expertise (A2E) programme we will provide you with an approximate state aid value prior to the A2E project starting.

We provide confirmation of actual state aid value of our programmes in a certificate listing each element and the state aid calculation after the appropriate programme is completed, or after 12 hours of RISE support has been delivered to the business.  We also record the value for each activity in the member’s locker area on the RISE member website.

We will provide a final ‘state aid value’ certificate at the end of the RISE project.

How is the value of the state aid my business receives reported to the funder?

We are required to report the value of state aid delivered to our funder on a quarterly basis.  We do not provide details about the breakdown per business, although we keep these records in case of audit.  We provide a total figure of state aid value delivered during each previous quarter. It is the responsibility of the business to keep a record of its state aid benefit and to declare this if and when required.

Access to Expertise

What is Access to Expertise?

If as a result of your discussion and audit with your Innovation Advisor a need is identified to access support directly from our academic community of expertise, then RISE will be able to fund the initial ‘kick-starting’ of a research and development (R&D) project with the University of Brighton or University of Sussex.

The size and scope of this project will be drawn up and value costed and the project will manage the procurement and engagement of an expert team. If the project is larger than the initial funding through RISE, the Innovation Advisors will explore additional funding routes to support the development of your R&D project. This could be a feasibility study, a piece of research, testing, validating, proof of concept, prototype development or possibly market research or capacity building through knowledge exchange (i.e leadership, strategy). 

Please note that funding for Access to Expertise projects is limited up to £12,000 of academic staff time and we are therefore only able to offer approximately 20 projects.

Will I have to pay for the Access to Expertise project support?

No. The initial Access to Expertise project will be fully scoped and funded. The project funding covers the costs of academic expertise – to trial working with a university to understand how it can support business research and development (R&D).

Any further support following an initial trial will be costed and funding options researched to support further R&D needs, either in a collaborative or a consultancy capacity. Any additional equipment, materials or costs identified outside of the scoped project of academic time the business will need to cover any of these additional costs. This will be discussed and agreed, in a fully transparent way, at the start of any project.

If I disclose my innovation idea to the university how will it be protected?

A Non-Disclosure Agreement (NDA) can be drawn up between the university and the business prior to the exchange or disclosure of your idea to the university.

Could my innovation idea be accessed by other members of RISE?

No. Commercially sensitive information will not be available on the portal and your ‘development’ area on the portal is secure and only visible to you via your unique log-in. Innovation Advisors will not share any information discussed in your meetings on the portal or with anyone else without a prior written approval from the business.   

We also advise members that this portal is a RISE member community space and to be mindful of not sharing commercially sensitive information in your profiles or on the forum posting area.  

The RISE project encourages ‘open innovation’ and collaboration with other members, organisations and the universities to fill any innovation capability gaps. This is not a prerequisite of RISE membership, and you may wish to seek Intellectual Property advice prior to any open innovation partnership development.  

Can't find an answer to your question?