In the lab Imperial has deep and long-standing relationships with SMEs across a range of sectors and the College works hard to improve SME engagement. We can provide consultancy from leading experts, access to world-class facilities, collaboration in R&D, access to top-class students and graduates, and licencing and incubation for start-up companies. Regardless of the size of your business, it is likely that Imperial has the expertise to help.

Help for SMEs


Read about the government's business innovation funding.

Funding is also available from the European Commission for collaborative research, under the FP7 framework programme, with project management support available from the Programme Management Office (PMO) in the Enterprise Division.

Skills and recruitment

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs) are intended to help businesses improve their competitiveness, productivity and performance via a partnership with an academic institution. Each partnership employs recently qualified people to work in a company on a project of strategic importance to the business, whilst also being supervised by an academic. KTP projects are part-funded by the Technology Strategy Board; SME partners would be expected to contribute about a third of the costs involved in the project.

Knowledge Transfer Secondments (KTSs) are similar mechanisms, sponsored by the EPSRC, intended to further the exploitation of EPSRC-funded knowledge. These can operate in two modes – outward secondments of Imperial staff into industry, and inward secondments of staff into Imperial.

The first step for both KTPs and KTSs is to identify an appropriate academic partner within College; if you would like assistance in this, please email

A third scheme is Industrial CASE funding for a PhD student, who can work for your company under the supervision of the College. The industrial sponsor is required to fund at least one quarter of the total cost. There is a fixed timetable for applications.

Imperial produces some of the most talented students and graduates in the world, and SMEs can access this talent pool for recruitment and internships via the College’s Careers Service.


Based at and owned by Imperial, and with access to over 3,000 academic and research staff, Imperial Consultants is well placed to help your organisation find the right expertise and skills.

Facilities hire

Imperial College has a wide array of specialist facilities and equipment, such as a wind-tunnel, anechoic chambers, and various analytical tools which are beyond the reach of most companies. These state of the art tools can often be accessed through Imperial Consultants.

Collaborative Research and Development

Our world-leading experts not only work on cutting edge research projects, but are focused on the application of their research to industry. We have worked with a range of companies, of different sizes and in a variety of sectors, to produce innovative research that solves real-life problems and adds value to their business. Our Enterprise team can help you to arrange a collaborative research programme.

Business education

The College offers a diverse range of courses designed for professionals looking to advance their careers in science, technology, medicine and business through the Continuing professional development. For companies looking to develop strategic leadership skills and organisational capabilities, the Imperial College Business School offers Executive Education programmes, and has a particular expertise in Innovation & Entrepreneurship.

Licensing and IP

Imperial generates a significant number of inventions each year, many of which are available to licence. A substantial proportion of licences are to SMEs. This intellectual property is managed by the College’s technology transfer and investment company, Imperial Innovations.

Incubation and Acceleration

If you are involved in a potentially high-growth start-up company and are looking for office space and access to facilities and expertise, then business incubation could be the answer. Imperial offers two incubation spaces – one on the South Kensington Campus and another on our White City Campus. For more details, please visit ThinkSpace or call +44 (0)20 8746 7721.