Research carried out into the impact of the Innovation for Competitive Enterprises (ICE) programme has indicated sales will increase by a collective £47.7 million at 90 companies in Scotland, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. The growth is expected to lead to the creation of 300 new jobs and pave the way for 40 companies to move into export sales across Europe by the time the programme ends in 2014.
The scheme is based on a "learning by doing" model that aims to build innovation capability and capacity in small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).
It involves consultants from Team BDS, an innovation specialist, spending the equivalent of 12 half-days per year within firms taking part. This is complemented by innovation workshops, technology transfers and licensing supports.
The project has received three-quarters of its funding from the Interreg IVA Programme, a European Union-backed scheme designed to foster cross-border collaboration, with the rest coming from Scottish Enterprise.
In Scotland, where Glasgow Caledonian University and the University of Glasgow are involved in the £2.3m scheme, the focus is on Ayrshire and Dumfries & Galloway because of the nature of the cross-border funding.
The 30 companies taking part are largely involved in manufacturing and engineering, though firms in IT and hospitality are also involved.
Janet Hamilton, ICE programme manager for the west of Scotland, said the project is aimed at established firms that have generally been trading for five or six years, turn over around £500,000 and are expected to enter the growth phase.
She said the emphasis on manufacturing and engineering stemmed from the potential the sectors have to add value.
Ms Hamilton said: "If you could better embed innovation within those type of companies, the opportunities for growth and benefits to the economy were seen as [offering] the greatest potential."
One Scottish firm that has benefited from taking part is Microtech Support, a Kilmarnock-based IT firm. It has created a marketing function, made the gradual transition from software provider to software developer, and pursued Scottish Enterprise investment to support expansion as a result of taking part. It has also taken on board a software product from Galway-based Retail Solutions that it will use as the foundation solution for the retail sector in Britain. Boss Chris McMail said licensing deals like these are lifting turnover and profits.