Innovate UK is making up to £50m available to businesses to help them grow their business through research, leadership skills and new products, services and ideas.
There are two funding pots; the first is designed to link businesses with graduates and research or academic organisations through the Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP) programme, and the second is to invest in “game-changing” products and services across any area of technology, science and engineering, through the Smart programme.
Skills for leadership and management in business
Innovate UK previously announced a £25m funding pot earmarked to expand its KTP programme, with the aim of getting more than 200 additional graduates with relevant skills places into businesses with “complex” management issues. A dedicated management KTP round is currently open until the 19th February 2020.
New ideas in business
More recently, the organisation announced the launch of another £25m funding pot through its Smart programme to invest in innovative business projects across any technology area, with a particular focus on ideas that have significant potential for global markets.
Projects submitted for Smart programme funding must show that they will exploit game-changing ideas to develop new products, processes and services that will have significant economic impact, Innovate UK has said.
The Smart programme competition opens on the 9th January 2020 with the deadline for applications set for midday on the 22nd April 2020. Businesses of any size can apply, and projects can range in size from £25,000 to £2m, and last between 6 and 36 months.
Government shows its support for small businesses
Innovate UK’s management KTP round was previously announced as part of the Government’s announcement to supply up to £56m nationally in funding for business productivity, which also includes £11m to create a Small Business Leadership programme and £20m to strengthen local networks to focus on business improvement.
The £56m funding boost for businesses was originally announced at Budget 2018, and subsequently supported by the findings of a joint report, published at the end of last year, by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) and HM Treasury.
The £20m funding pot to strengthen local networks will encourage UK business leaders to learn from one another about management excellence and technology adoption. The support networks will be locally focused to ensure local needs and priorities are considered and met.
Central government will also be creating a partnership between government, professional services firms, large banks and technology firms to reach out to UK companies that do not normally engage with government and support them in adopting new management techniques and business tools.
Be the Business
The Government is also encouraging UK businesses to sign up to the Be the Business mentoring programme for SMEs. South East Local Enterprise Partnership (SELEP) is already working in partnership with Be the Business to deliver the Mentoring for Growth programme, in collaboration with the Growth Company, through the local Growth Hub network consisting of BEST Growth Hub, Business East Sussex and Kent & Medway Growth Hub. The national mentoring programme is aimed at bridging the productivity gap within UK SMEs.
Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:
“We are determined to make the UK the best place to work and start a business – and boosting productivity is key to that. As a former small business owner, I know how important it is to harness technology to make your business more productive and our review sets out crucial actions that businesses can take to boost their own productivity. This £56 million of government funding will help businesses of all sizes seize the opportunities of scaling up in new markets when we leave the EU.”
Christian Brodie, South East LEP Chair said:
“We welcome this funding from Government. The productivity challenge is something we have identified in our area, and our future Local Industrial Strategy – which is being finalised – sets out how we can work together to address this. In this changing economic climate, it is important to help those businesses looking to adapt and change, and we will work through our Growth Hub, and other partners, to help develop these locally focused support networks and ensure the needs and priorities of local businesses are considered and met.”