-East of England businesses encouraged to bid for a share of the funding-

The Technology Strategy Board – the UK’s Innovation Agency – has today published its blueprint for growth, which outlines investments of over £400 million in British Innovation.

Businesses from across the East of England are being encouraged to look at the range of specialist business support available and bid for a share of the funding available.

156 organisations in the region received help/funding from the Technology Strategy Board in the last financial year.

These companies were awarded over £22 million to support their collaborative research and development projects.

Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:
“Businesses in the East of England are making great use of the funding available to help develop their innovations. The region has already seen over £22 million invested during the last year, which in turn helps to generate additional investment.

“I want to see even more businesses across the region bid for funding this year and help to keep the UK at the front of the global race for technology and innovation.”

One company that received funding last year was Cambridge-based Zettlex which manufactures high precision sensors which operate in harsh environments for the medical, defence, aerospace, industrial and energy sectors. The company is also an established player in the space applications market, thanks to the Technology Strategy Board’s Space for Growth competition.

An approach from Airbus Defence and Space led to the two companies collaborating to build a space-specific variant of the Zettlex position sensor. The project was a success and Zettlex and Airbus are now continuing their collaboration on an additional product.

Zettlex MD Mark Howard said:

“We probably would have done it, but over years rather than months. The Technology Strategy Board allowed us to carry out the project in a fast, concentrated, focused way.

“The only problem with the Technology Strategy Board is that it should be 10 times bigger.”

The 2014-15 Delivery Plan sets out the Board’s priorities for accelerating innovation across the UK. It outlines an ambitious blueprint for developing and nurturing the very best of British entrepreneurial talent.

Through 88 new competitions, designed to find and fund top innovative ideas, key investment areas include:  
1. £80 million will go to programs in the Healthcare sector
2. £82 million to Energy
3. £70 million to Transport
4. £72 million to support initiatives in High Value Manufacturing
5. £42 million for Digital Technologies.
Amongst the funding announcements today, are the launch of two new catapult centres – in Precision Medicine and Energy Systems – and the establishment of new offices in Brussels to champion British Innovation abroad.

David Willetts said:
“We are global leaders in innovation and the Technology Strategy Board plays a crucial role in maintaining this, ensuring that great British ideas can be transformed into great British products.

“Innovation is booming in this country, and it is part of our long term economic plan to invest in ambitious entrepreneurs and businesses, to help them grow and succeed in the global race.”

Small businesses remain a key focus and the budget for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) has been doubled to £200 million in 2014/15.

The Technology Strategy Board will introduce a new, UK-wide, SME growth programme, providing a package of skills, mentoring and coaching support, giving micro and small companies the capability to progress, attract potential investors and grow their businesses.

The Chief Executive of the Technology Strategy Board, Iain Gray, said:

“The 2014-15 Delivery Plan raises the Technology Strategy Board’s ambitions to a higher level, enhancing support for UK companies through a range of targeted programmes, opening up lucrative pathways into Europe and expanding facilities and opportunities for businesses to collaborate and innovate still further.”
To help match top innovators with possible investors there will also be a new online platform, developed in partnership with the British Business Bank and the UK Business Angels Association. This will to showcase innovative companies to potential investors.

A further partnership – with the International Property Office (IPO) and UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) – will help small businesses access intellectual property and export advice.