New funding & loans to help innovate the future

Simon Edmonds discusses the latest news from Innovate UK, including the announcement of new funding for innovation loans and Knowledge Transfer Partnerships.

Innovation Alley at Smart Factory Expo 2017 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
‘Innovation Alley’ at Smart Factory Expo 2017 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

The recent The Manufacturer Live 2017 events (Digital Manufacturing Week) were an excellent showcase for the strength of innovation in our manufacturing base.

Innovate UK was proud to sponsor this year’s Innovation Alley which highlighted some of the great small companies and start-ups who are pioneering new products and processes.

In my keynote speech on the second day of The Manufacturer Leaders Conference I highlighted the R&D funding opportunities available from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund and other Innovate UK competitions.

I was pleased to announce, for example, the winners of our latest Manufacturing and Materials competition – £18.4m of grant funding to 130 organisations, representing 63 projects.

The quality and scope of these projects is outstanding and highlights the appetite of UK manufacturing and materials companies across the country to innovate and grow. For further details, please visit: www.bit.ly/2zcMOhQ

 This article first appeared in the December / January issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here. 

Innovation loans

At our annual conference, Innovate 2017, in November, our chief executive Ruth McKernan announced that small businesses with groundbreaking ideas will be able to access new innovation loans.

This is the first time Innovate UK has offered a new funding mechanism other than matched grants. Innovation loans will offer affordable, flexible funding for later-stage research and development projects with a clear route to commercial success.

The first competition is open to support smart infrastructure, urban and connected transport projects. The first wave will make up to £50m available over two years. For more information, please see: www.bit.ly/2hSov1S

Made Smarter (Industrial Digitalisation) Review

One of the most important launches in the last month has been the publication of the Industrial Digitalisation Review, led by Juergen Maier, CEO Siemens UK and Ireland.

Simon Edmonds delivering his keynote address during Leaders Conference 2017 - image courtesy of The Manufacturer.
Simon Edmonds delivering his keynote address during Leaders Conference 2017 – image courtesy of The Manufacturer.

If you haven’t had the opportunity to read the report yet, then I would urge you to do so – see: www.bit.ly/2Bzzar5

Innovate UK was pleased to play its part in contributing to this industry-led review, looking at how UK manufacturing can benefit from increasing digitalisation and technological change.

As Ruth McKernan said on the Review’s publication date: “This comprehensive Review sets out practical recommendations around digital skills adoption, leadership and innovation.

“Maximising opportunities from industrial digitalisation massively boosts productivity and UK competitiveness. The innovation eco-system has a key role to play in delivering the ambition in this Review and Innovate UK stands ready to work with government and industry to drive forward the recommendations Juergen Maier sets out.”

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

Manufacturing businesses across the country have a long association with the Knowledge Transfer Partnership (KTP) scheme, which supports UK businesses to innovate and grow.

This excellent programme is to receive a significant boost this year following the announcement at Innovate 2017 that Innovate UK will receive an extra £30m of funding for the scheme.

The additional money will allow significant expansion of the KTPs, which currently employ 630 graduates and post-doctoral researchers into industrial R&D and entrepreneurial roles in the UK.

New Funding - The Leonardo team on Innovation Alley in this year’s Smart Factory Expo - image courtesy of The Manufacutrer.
The Leonardo team on Innovation Alley in this year’s Smart Factory Expo – image courtesy of The Manufacutrer.

For those who haven’t come across it, KTPs enable businesses to bring in new skills and the latest academic thinking.

The result is an innovation project of commercial benefit in a three-way knowledge-based partnership between the business, an academic or research organisation, and a suitably qualified graduate.

KTPs have been run with Unilever, Dyson, Jaguar Land Rover, Rolls Royce, Sainsbury’s and many other large companies, but less visible is that 80% of KTPs are SME-led.

The KTP scheme has a network of 20 advisors across the UK, employed through Innovate UK’s Knowledge Transfer Network to broker and mentor projects. More information on KTPs and how to get involved is available here: www.bit.ly/1ha5Pbo

Innovate UK

For more information on any of Innovate UK’s funding opportunities, please contact the customer support service:

Feedback! All feedback gratefully received. I can be found on Twitter: @SJSEdmonds