December 20, 2011 - Anonymous

Small high-tech firms to benefit from R&D package and increased IP support

Small firms in the hi-tech industries are set to benefit from a £75-million package of Government measures to help them develop their products and services.

The initiatives include better access to finance to help develop technology products and services, including the designing of large-scale prototypes to attract investors, according to the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS).

The funding will be made available as part of the Smart scheme – previously known as the Grant for Research and Development, and will be delivered via the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), the UK’s innovation agency, which said it expected to announce further details about how the scheme will work early next year.

In addition, a pilot voucher scheme will enable small firms to work with universities and research institutions for free to develop innovative new technology. The scheme, to be administered by the TSB, will start next April.

The Government also announced several new measures aimed at helping small and medium-sized businesses protect their intellectual property (IP), including free IP audits. These would help firms uncover unused assets, according to BIS, which said the audits were likely to be delivered through the TSB.

Announcing the initiatives, business secretary Vince Cable said: “This strategy builds on our strengths by setting out how we will work with businesses and research bases to underpin private sector-led growth.

“We recognise that by improving the incentives for businesses to innovate they will continue to create life-changing products to drive future innovation and growth,” he added.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) welcomed the new package of measures, saying it “recognised the UK’s innovation ecosystem as critical to future growth”.

“The focus is rightly on open innovation and taking ideas through to commercialisation,” said CBI head of enterprise and innovation Tim Bradshaw.