New Project Will Close the Digital Gap Between SMEs and Larger Businesses

The group of partners will deliver a new £3.9M initiative aimed at enabling Liverpool City Region SMEs to unlock the business benefits of digital technologies.

Launching formally in January 2020, LCR4 START is a part European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) funded business support programme specifically for Liverpool City Region SMEs, and will be led by the Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC) and delivered in partnership with Liverpool John Moores University, Sensor City, Science and Technology Facilities Council and Growth Platform.

Fully funded business support will be available to qualifying SMEs in the Liverpool City region operating in any industry sector and the project is targeted to support at least two hundred businesses over a three year period. The VEC and its partners will support the SMEs in the development of an effective digital strategy and offer practical, hands on support to enable them to identify opportunities to develop and deploy digital technologies to unlock business gains, growth and savings and, if appropriate, further funding.

Lynn Dwyer, Chief Commercial Officer at Virtual Engineering Centre, said: “We are hugely excited to be leading on a project that we think has the potential to be transformative for Liverpool’s SME community. Many smaller businesses are lagging behind in digital transformation because they lack the time and resources to identify their digital needs and do not have the skills or financial resources to access and effectively use digital technologies and tools. What that does is create a widening gap between SMEs and their larger competitors. We hope this support programme will help SMEs seize the opportunities presented by digital technologies such as sensors and virtual reality which may previously have seemed out of reach.”

LCR4 START follows in the footsteps of LCR 4.0, a hugely successful ERDF funded project involving the group of project partners which, to date, has created more than eighty new jobs and supported in excess of 300 SMEs across the region, giving them access to the expertise, technology and collaboration opportunities they needed to boost productivity and drive innovation.

Regional SMEs interested in accessing the support offered by the new initiative should contact Danielle Carrington, LCR4 START Project Officer, on 0151 237 3537 or email

About LCR4 Start

Part of the collective LCR4 brand, LCR4 Start is the latest business support programme for SMEs wanting to take advantage of the opportunities of the 4th industrial revolution.

LCR4 Start is delivered in partnership by the University of Liverpool’s Virtual Engineering Centre (VEC), Liverpool John Moores University (Faculty of Engineering and Technology), Sensor City, STFC  (Science and Technology Facilities Council) and the Growth Platform.

For more information about LCR4 and the programmes now available visit:

ERDF in the Northwest:

LCR4 Start is receiving up to £3.9 million of funding from the England European Regional Development Fund as part of the European Structural and Investment Funds Growth Programme 2014-2020. The Department for Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund.

Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information visit

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