The Innovation 4 Growth programme offers grants of between £25,000 and £150,000 for smaller businesses looking to develop new or improved products, processes, services or technologies that safeguard or create jobs.

The scheme is financed by the government’s Regional Development Fund.

Professor Martin Boddy, pro-vice chancellor of research and business engagement at the University of the West of England, said: “We are delighted to offer support to promising enterprises across the South West. Not only in the Bristol area, but right across the region – from Truro to Tewkesbury, Bideford to Bournemouth – the fund will enable us to help businesses innovate and grow.”

Professor Janice Kiely, director of the Institute of Bio-sensing Technology at the University of the West of England, added: “The application deadline is Monday, 10 March 2014. So it is important that businesses express an interest as early as possible.”

Bids will be assessed by a panel of business experts, with all funding due to be handed out by 30 April 2015.