Simon Edmonds highlights the support Innovate UK has made – and continues to make – for companies that win prestigious Queen’s Awards. Plus, there is the latest news on Innovate UK’s funding competitions and the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The annual Queen’s Awards for Enterprise recognise the contributions and outstanding achievements of UK businesses in innovation, international trade, sustainable development and in promoting opportunity through social mobility.
I am always interested to read through the list of winning companies, in particular looking out for innovative UK manufacturers. This year, a total of 230 UK businesses have been recognised for leading industry with their products and services.
3D printer winners
Among the winners are 10 companies that have received funding support from Innovate UK. One of these winners was Peterborough-based 3D-printer and resin manufacturer Photocentric, which was recognised for its outstanding three-year growth in overseas sales.
This year, the company expects to sell more than £2.3m of 3D printers and photopolymers, rising to over £8m by 2020 – all from an invention in 2014, which was a consequence of an Innovate UK grant. More than 74% of their sales are to overseas markets.
This article first appeared in the June issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.
In March this year, Photocentric also received the Manufacturing Innovation Award at the Made in Central and East England Awards. Earlier, in February, the company was selected as a CommonwealthFirst Export Champion by the Commonwealth Enterprise and Investment Council.
This isn’t the first time the company has won a Queen’s Award. In 2016, Photocentric received the award for Enterprise: Innovation.
Photocentric began in 2002, with the aim of making the creation of business stamps simpler and cheaper. Since then, the company has evolved into manufacturing 3D printers and patented photopolymer packs for making stamps. It is now the largest clear stamp manufacturer outside China.
The 3D printers developed by Photocentric operate using patented technology to create a 3D object from a 2D image on a screen. They use the light emitted from an LCD screen that was originally intended for use in a mobile, tablet or TV to harden a special polymer made to react in daylight.
The printers make both extremely high-resolution objects and very large format ones.
Over the past five years, total sales have grown from £2.5m to £5.7m, with exports rising from £1.7m to over £4m. Their US subsidiary has further sales of more than $3m.
Photocentric has also created 35 new jobs – almost doubling its workforce to 80 – and has a distribution network covering more than 50 countries worldwide.
There are two funding opportunities I’d like to highlight this month. First, businesses can apply for a share of up to £20m from Innovate UK to develop ideas for innovative new products and services in any sector of the economy.
Projects can work on disruptive and game-changing ideas in any sector of the economy or any field of technology. They can be of various kinds, from small feasibility studies to longer industrial research or experimental development projects.
Alongside this competition, there is also an opportunity for businesses to apply for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTPs). The deadline for applications is midday on 11 July 2018. To find out more about this competition and apply please click here.
Second, the Advanced Propulsion Centre has up to £30m to invest in technologies that support the long-term development of low and zero-emission vehicles in the UK.
The APC is a government-industry body that aims to make the UK a global centre of excellence for low carbon vehicle development and production.
The funding is part of a 10-year, £1bn joint government and industry investment to accelerate development of low carbon propulsion technologies and help the UK to take advantage of the huge opportunities in this field.
Innovate UK delivers the competition process, and the deadline for applications is midday on 27 June 2018. To find out more about this competition and to apply, please click here.
The Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund
In previous columns I reported progress on the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, which aims to bring together the UK’s world-leading research with business to meet the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.
In recent months, we have run a call for ‘Expressions of Interest’ for the next wave of funding, which generated more than 250 submissions by the closing date across a broad range of technologies and sectors.
For further information, I’d encourage you to read a recent blog by my colleague Mike Biddle, who has set out what happens next – please click here to follow this story.