£58m backing for innovative British businesses

Published: 8-Jul-2016

The funding comprises a series of competitions run by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, and its partner organisations

Innovative businesses working in the UK’s energy, infrastructure, biomedical and quantum technology sectors will be supported by up to £57.5m of new funding, announced Business Secretary Sajid Javid.

The package is made up of a series of competitions run by the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK, and its partner organisations. The funding will support the very best innovative projects in sectors where there is very high potential for growth in the UK economy, and builds on excellent research done by the UK’s world leading science base.

The Business Secretary announced the new funding competitions at the first interministerial group on business engagement, which brought ministers across government to discuss issues and challenges facing businesses in all sectors, and how government could support them following the outcome of the EU referendum. Business Secretary Sajid Javid said: 'Creating opportunities for businesses to thrive in the UK is essential for increasing productivity, creating jobs and boosting our economy. That’s why government is working with businesses across all sectors to ensure they have the support they need to grow now and in the future.'

'Part of our success will be to help propel innovative UK business even further — not only do our world-leading innovators and research base attract foreign investment, their ideas go on to improve the lives of millions of people. Whether tackling climate change or cancer, this new funding will help get the best ideas onto the market quicker and shows our commitment to make the UK the best place in Europe to innovate, set up and grow a business,' he added.

Chief Executive of Innovate UK, Dr Ruth McKernan, said: 'Innovative businesses right across the country that have been supported by Innovate UK are helping to address some of the biggest challenges the world faces. From reducing carbon emissions to tackling antibiotic resistance or developing the very latest quantum technologies, these firms are taking risks, trying new ideas and growing our economy in the process. Our new competitions promise to get some of the very best ideas off the drawing board and closer to market.'

The package of competitions will open during the next 2 weeks and includes

  • two competitions totalling £28m for innovation that will lead to affordable, sustainable and secure energy delivery, integration of different modes of transport or tackle the challenges of modern urban living; this funding will develop new ideas and support the first use of those new products to help businesses secure customers, investment and growth
  • the joint £10m Biomedical Catalyst 2016 competition between Innovate UK, the Medical Research Council and Scottish Enterprise; it builds on the successful catalyst programme to develop innovative healthcare technologies and processes that will help offer potential cures, prevent disease, manage chronic conditions or lead to earlier detection and diagnosis
  • a £19.5m joint competition with the Engineering and Physical Sciences research council to help companies to explore the commercial applications for Quantum Technologies; this competition is a part of the world-leading £270m UK programme for quantum technologies and helps companies to identify and develop the future uses of quantum clocks, sensors, imaging, communications networks or computers.

Responding Sajid Javid’s announcement, BIA Chief Executive, Steve Bates, said: 'The £10m committed by BIS and Innovate UK to the Biomedical Catalyst 2016 competition is great news for the life sciences sector. The BIA has continually called for a recommitment to this highly successful scheme during the past year and it is great to see that innovative start-ups in the life sciences sector will have access to really valuable funding to allow them to get projects off the ground that have the potential to meet unmet patient needs in a range of conditions.'

'However, whereas this announcement meets a short-term need, it is not the ongoing commitment that the BIA wants to see the government make towards innovation policy and funding. Despite signs of continued momentum and maturity in the private funding of the UK’s bioscience sector, there is no room for complacency. The lack of reported seed capital for UK bioscience companies in 2015 shown in our latest research underlines the importance of effective support for early stage companies through fit-for-purpose innovation policy from the government. To secure the future of the sector we need another full round of the Biomedical Catalyst funding like the £130m we saw committed during the course of the last parliament,' he added.

'Given the political and economic uncertainty that the country has seen during the last fortnight, it is now more important than ever that the government supports high-tech, innovative sectors such as bioscience with globally competitive innovation policy and funding. The BIA will be making this message loud and clear during the coming weeks and months to the new Prime Minister and his or her government,' he concluded.

To date, the BMC has supported 180 business-led projects with funds worth more than £130m and with a total project value of more than £240m. This means that more than £100m of additional private capital has been raised through the fund for project specific work. In addition to this, companies that have received BMC funding have gone on to generate £1bn in follow-on funding.

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