May 17, 2013 - Rachel Miller
The Technology Strategy Board, the UK's innovation agency, has a record £440 million budget this year to support innovative businesses – and over 60% of it will go to small and medium-sized businesses.
David Willetts, the universities and science minister, said: "The £440 million budget means that there will be more funding available than ever before for businesses across the country to bid for and help turn their ideas into reality – bridging the so-called 'valley of death'."
The valley of death refers to the notoriously difficult stage in the life of any technology business, between R&D and commercial roll-out.
The Technology Strategy Board promises to support companies so that they can make their ideas a successful reality. Independent research shows that every £1 invested by the Technology Strategy Board returns £7 to the UK economy. Sectors that could benefit from funding this year include: renewable energy, future cities, advanced materials, satellites, digital technologies and healthcare.
Iain Gray, chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board, said: "Everything we do is driven by the desire to help UK business bring new ideas and technologies to market and so support economic growth. The Technology Strategy Board aims to make the UK the very best place to innovate."
The 2013/14 Delivery Plan sets out how the Board will enable businesses to access finance and gain knowledge, skills and equipment. It will also open up access to markets such as India, China and Brazil through its Missions, involvement in EU programmes and bilateral agreements with other countries.
SMEs remain a key focus, with a number of support mechanisms. The budget for the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) will be increased to £100 million in 2013/14 and £200 million the following year. This gives SMEs access to public sector procurement contracts. The innovation vouchers scheme will also be expanded and the SMART awards budget, at £40 million, will continue to provide SMEs with grants for marketing and R&D.