Case Study

Design LED – H2020 SME Engagement Voucher lights the way to successful partnerships


University of Strathclyde


Creative Industries
Engineering and Technology


Edinburgh & Lothians

Design LED, founded in 2004, is a global leader in the field of LED light-guide technology and have created a unique lighting solution in the form of low weight, flexible light tiles. Light tiles are made up of integrated LEDs that form extremely thin, energy efficient, transparent panels that are modular and allow users to direct light exactly where they want it.

In 2014 Design LED approached the Intelligent Lighting Centre at the Technology and Innovation Centre, part of the University of Strathclyde, with the aim of bringing together a small group of SMEs and academics to develop their core technology and provide an inorganic LED device technology platform which would use half the energy consumption and run at half the cost of current retail and consumer lighting. The technology involved the combination of existing Design LED technology with next generation and emerging LED devices, to enable thin, flat, flexible and uniform, sheets of light, which are highly reliable, low cost, energy efficient and highly desirable by end users.

The Intelligent Lighting Centre has established connections in the lighting technology development community and was able to identify a number of potential European partners that would be able to support Design LED’s aims and objectives.

It was decided that a more efficient means of meeting multiple prospective project partners was by attending the major industry exhibition, Light+Building, and conducting meetings there and nearby. 

The academic team were made aware of new funding streams that were specifically designed to help businesses build relationships in Europe and approached Interface for more information.

Interface was able to identify the Horizon 2020 SME Engagement Voucher as a viable funding solution which would cover the cost of engaging with potential partners in Europe. 

This funding programme is the first step of the European Funding journey; designed to support Scottish SMEs explore opportunities, with the help of Scottish Higher Education Institutes, and assist them in forming collaborative partnerships to strengthening their applications for Horizon 2020 European Funding, a €70 billion European funding programme which supports research and innovation in Europe.

Dr James Gourlay, Technical Director at Design LED said, “Applying for H2020 SME Engagement Funding could not have been easier. The academic from the Intelligent Lighting Centre, Janet Milne, is an expert in the field and took the time to meet me and understand our aims and objectives.  Janet took the lead on completing the application form, she dealt with the legal contracts including the confidentiality and intellectual property agreements and, apart from providing our company details, there was nothing for me to fill in.

“They kept me informed and involved throughout the process, providing me with a final report at the end of the project which led to an application for H2020 European Funding.  As a result of the project we have built very strong relationships with our European partners and will continue to work with them.  All in all this has been yet another excellent experience of working with academia and will be extremely beneficial to the expansion of the company.”

Thanks to the successful application of funding, four Design LED Products personnel representing senior management, technical, operations and product marketing were able to attend the Light+Building event in Frankfurt allowing them to meet with a number of potential project partners.

This proved to be highly successful with the objectives of the original project proposal being exceeded and three Horizon 2020 European Funding applications being submitted.

For more information on Design LED visit