§ Mrs. Roche
The DTI is assisting research and development in the north-west primarily through the new SMART initiative, aimed at helping small and medium sized enterprises (SME) to improve their competitiveness by developing new products and processes to the benefit of the national economy. £3.98 million has been offered since 1 April 1997 in the north-west alone (excluding Merseyside). Nationally, DTI provides assistance under the LINK scheme. Since 1988 the Government have spent over £13 million supporting LINK projects in the north-west out of their total commitment of over £18 million.
Other indirect assistance includes joint working with the North West Partnership to produce a Regional Innovation and Technology Action Plan; funding for the North West Regional Industrialist; support for Faraday/Foresight NW; the Teaching Company Scheme; the Post Graduate Training Partnership and College Business Partnerships.