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Frequently Asked Questions


1. What is the InfoLab21 Strategic Innovation Support Programme (ISIS)?

ISIS is delivered by InfoLab21 and is a project to provide support to regional Small & Medium Enterprises (SMEs) part-financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). ISIS provides free “transformational ICT” support i.e. ICT implementation that changes the way a business operates, which means making changes to the organisation and business processes, resulting in a major improvement that could not happen without the use of ICT.


2. How is ISIS Funded?

ISIS is delivered by InfoLab21 and part financed by the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF). The European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) was established by the European Commission in 1975 to stimulate economic development in less prosperous regions of the European Union (EU). As EU membership has grown, ERDF has developed into a major funding stream to help redress regional imbalances.  In the Northwest, with a total of £521million (dependent on exchange rate) of ERDF funding between 2007 and 2013, the ERDF Programme will enhance the competitiveness of the region’s economy by supporting growth in employment and enterprise.  Managed by the Northwest Regional Development Agency (NWDA), this is the largest ERDF programme in England.

3. What kind of support can I get for my business from ISIS?

By acting as a ‘technology translator’, providing impartial advice and practical solutions from ICT specialists based at InfoLab21, we are able to transfer knowledge and understanding of  transformational ICT and provide support in the following areas:

(Follow the links for more information and examples for each area of expertise.)

transform the way you do business

4. What is Transformational ICT?

Transformational ICT is where ICT enables a completely different (i.e. transformed) business model which could simply not be delivered without that ICT and which potentially brings substantial new benefits to the business, for example, in terms of productivity, competitiveness, market access or carbon neutrality.

See Transformation ICT Page for more information and examples

5. How can I find out if my business is eligible for free support from ISIS?

SME  Location: ISIS can assist SMEs based in the Northwest of England i.e. anywhere within:

  • Cumbria
  • Lancashire
  • Cheshire & Warrington
  • Greater Manchester
  • Merseyside.

(Postcode restrictions no longer apply)

SME Sectors: Most sectors are eligible excluding the retail sector but the project has a specific focus on the High Growth sectors:

How can I find out if my  business is eligible for free support from ISIS?
  • Biochemicals
  • Food and Drink
  • Energy & Environmental Technology
  • Advanced Engineering
  • Financial and Professional Services
  • Digital & Creative Industries

Companies must demonstrate that the support will result in increased jobs/job safeguarded and increased GVA.

SME Size
Businesses with 5 to 250 employees.

If you are not sure if your company is eligible, please contact us to check.


6. Will support from ISIS cost my company anything?

ICT support through ISIS is free for eligible companies as it is part-financed by the European Regional Development fund.


7. Who do I contact to find out about ISIS?

For further details and an informal discussion on potential support contact InfoLab21’s Business Development Team.

Nick King
tel: 01524 510447


Colin McLaughlin
tel: 01524 510443

8. What is the process involved in getting assistance through ISIS?

How can I find out if my  business is eligible for free support from ISIS?
  1. Contact the Business Development Officer listed above, they will take your details and advise if the activity is eligible and refer you to an ISIS project worker.
  2. You will then be contacted to discuss the project further and to arrange a meeting from a Technical Officer. At the meeting you will have the opportunity to discuss your ICT problem or needs with a specialist. We will spend time with each SME manager to ensure we fully understand the needs of the business and the ICT issues and requirements for business growth. We will then match resources against the business requirements and agree a full plan of action with the company to deliver the support your businesses needs, with an increased commitment to using ICT to grow their business and working with the ICT sector.
  3. Depending on the type of support to be undertaken you will be allocated a key contact for the project who will work closely with you throughout the delivery process to review activity and progress and project manage the support.
  4. On completion of the project a final visit will be undertaken to check you are happy with the delivery of the project and provide final advice and guidance to ensure you are fully equipped to move forward with your ICT.

9. Who manages ISIS?

ISIS is managed by Stewart Kember

Who will deliver the support?

10. Who will deliver the support?

Support can be provided through one to one consultancy, drawing from the expertise based in the two academic departments in InfoLab21, knowledge transfer specialists, experienced Technical Officers and InfoLab21 Graduate Academy, with the InfoLab21 Student Academy as an extra resource.


11. I would like ICT support on a topic that’s not one of the key areas of expertise identified. Can you still help me?

Very likely- ISIS is one of several ways that InfoLab21 can provide support, we also have access to a vast research base at InfoLab21 and resources from the InfoLab21 Student Academy and the InfoLab21 ICT JobShop.

Contact us to let us know what you need and we are likely to be able to deliver it ourselves or know someone who can through our extensive partner network.

measuring outputs

12. How and why does InfoLab21 measure transformational ICT?

The aim of ISIS is to benefit the regional economy through transformational ICT.  This is measured by recording the outcomes or “outputs” for each piece of work we do for a company. InfoLab21 has to report back to its funding bodies on how each project has created and safeguarded jobs for each company we work with and also how it has also increased its Gross Value Added (GVA).

What is GVA?

13. What is Gross Value Added (GVA) and what is it used for?

*For the ERDF NW Operational Programme, the NWDA has set one of its output indicators (results) as ‘Businesses improving their performance’ using GVA.

GVA is a measure of the value of the goods and services produced in an area or sector of the economy. It is primarily used to monitor the performance of the national (and regional) economy and is now the preferred method by many to measure the overall economic well-being of an area.

For each company we work with, we will measure the increase in GVA from a baseline position to an agreed date at which the assistance is complete.

GVA calculations

14. How is Gross Value Added calculated?

*The following calculation, as defined by the NWDA provides the GVA for a company:

GVA = Total salary or wage costs + pre-tax profit + depreciation


  • Total salary/wage costs: defined as total employee costs including employer NI and pension contributions over a given period e.g. 12 months.
  • Pre-tax profit: defined as the profits made by the company before tax deductions are made over a given period e.g. 12 months.
  • Depreciation: economic depreciation is seen as the change in the market value of capital over a given period e.g. 12 months.

This should be based on a baseline position of the previous year Annual Report/Company Accounts.

15. How do GVA and Gross Domestic Product (GDP) relate to each other?

*Both GVA and GDP are measures of Output, and both measure the value of goods and services produced in the economy. However, GVA differs from GDP in that GVA excludes taxes and subsidies. This is because the use of taxes and subsidies can only be measured at a whole economy level.


GVA + taxes on products - subsidies on products = GDP

Or in more detail: GVA (at current basic prices; available by industry only) plus taxes on products (available at whole economy level only) less subsidies on products (available at whole economy level only) equals GDP (at current market prices; available at whole economy level only).

*Produced with support from the following sources:

The Office of National Statistics (2002) Guide to Gross Value Added
Wikipedia (2009) Gross value added

16. What is "Solutions For Business"

Solutions For Business

Solutions for Business is a suite of publicly funded business support products and services designed to help businesses start, grow and succeed. The right advice, loan or grant – at the right time - can make the world of difference to your business. Solutions for Business products are simple to understand and access, good value for money and directed to where they will have most impact to help businesses grow. They are designed to equip you with the necessary knowledge and skills you need to tackle issues your business might be facing.

Eligible businesses can gain support in areas such as starting up, understanding finance, training and skill development, resource efficiency, exploiting ideas, accessing international opportunities and growing your business.