Simon Edmonds discusses Innovation Loans, inspirational women in UK manufacturing and, as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund, a third wave of industry-led challenges to tackle the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time.
Last autumn, I highlighted our new Innovation Loans scheme. I am pleased to say that up to £10m in innovation loans is available to UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to scale up and commercialise innovative manufacturing processes and materials development.
Innovation loans will be made through Innovate UK Loans Ltd, a wholly owned subsidiary of Innovate UK. To learn more about the background to our loans scheme you might be interested in my colleague Nigel Walker’s blog on the topic.
The loan competition aims to help SMEs progress their innovative manufacturing and materials projects, and achieve manufacturing and commercial readiness.
Projects should focus on a late-stage manufacturing or materials innovation rather than be at a product level. They may include (but are not restricted to):
- Creation of new or improved manufacturing facilities, equipment and systems
- Development of software
- Development of new business models
- Materials testing
It is open to all manufacturing sectors and I would encourage companies wishing to scale-up to seek out more information at: bit.ly/2p8DaJ9 – the deadline for registration is midday on 25 April, 2018.
This article first appeared in the April issue of The Manufacturer magazine. To subscribe, please click here.
Fixing manufacturing’s skills shortage
Manufacturers on the right side of history will be talking about increasing British industry’s share of the UK talent pool – by boosting participation from women and minority groups in the manufacturing workforce.
Whether UK manufacturing has a problem with women and diversity – or whether it’s the other way round – there is a problem that needs to be tackled if the country’s manufacturing renaissance is to be sustained to fix it.
21 June 2018 – Exhibition Centre, Liverpool. Click here to book your place.
New Women in Innovation awards
Promoting female entrepreneurship has been a priority for Innovate UK since we launched our first Women in Innovation awards in 2016. Our chief executive, Ruth McKernan, announced last month our long-term commitment to expand the programme.
A second phase of the Women in Innovation Awards competition will be run in 2018, alongside a dedicated support programme, continuing our commitment to encourage female-led innovation.
The inaugural Women in Innovation campaign was aimed at addressing the disproportionately low number of women seeking support from Innovate UK.
It resulted in a 10% increase in registrations from female applicants for Innovate UK support and saw a 31-strong cohort of women achieve business successes.
Last month, we announced the 2018 awards at two events held around International Women’s Day. This was an opportunity to hear from the original Women in Innovation award holders, such as Pauline Dawes, managing director of SOMI Trailers.
Pauline has drawn on her 10 years of professional experience to inform her innovation; leading the development of a trailer body that uses the space underneath trucks to transport greater loads with every journey. This could lead to a saving of 10,000 truck journeys a day in the UK alone.
Other award winners include Elena Dieckmann, co-founder of Aeropowder, who has been selected for Forbes’ 30 under 30. Aeropowder is a start-up, turning waste feathers from the poultry industry into innovative materials.
Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund – tell us what to support
We are inviting ideas for the third wave of industry-led challenges to tackle the biggest industrial and societal challenges of our time as part of the government’s Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.
The Manufacturer readers still have time to feed in ideas: the expressions of interest deadline is 18 April. Proposals must be clearly aligned with at least one of the four grand challenges in the government’s Industrial Strategy:
- Artificial intelligence and the data economy
- Clean growth
- The future of mobility
- Meeting the needs of an ageing society
You will need to explain and evidence what the challenge is, the positive impact in addressing it, and the capabilities and strengths that we already have in the UK that would help us to become a world-leader in its research and commercialisation.
The challenge must:
- Be compelling, focused, understandable and have a real benefit if solved
- Be industry-led and in an area of existing strength
- Take advantage of the depth and expertise of UK research
- Offer a clear opportunity for sustainable growth, including global markets
- Evidence that government support is necessary and of strategic importance
- Increase productivity
Challenges can be of any size. You will be expected to propose the amount of funding required from government and from industry to address your proposal.
Consortia must be led by a business or industry body. Members can be businesses, academic organisations, public sector bodies, or research and technology organisations. For more information, please click here.