Government pledges to halve the time it takes for businesses to get innovation grants

Government pledges to halve the time it takes for businesses to get innovation grants
Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events

Posted: Wed 17th Jan 2024

Innovate UK, the government agency providing funding to innovating businesses, is aiming to halve the average time it takes companies to go from application to receiving grant funding.

Delivering a speech in east Lodon, science and technology secretary Michelle Donelan said Innovate UK is also aiming to reach a million innovators by the end of the year.

The move is part of a new “declaration" by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), of which Innovate UK is part, "to support firms of all sizes to invest in the innovation they need to scale into the success stories of tomorrow".

Other UKRI pledges include increasing the opportunities for scale-ups to sell their innovations to public sector organisations, and working with the British Business Bank and UK Export Finance to improve access to finance for scaling businesses.

'A scale-up powerhouse'

The pledges about innovation funding were included in Donelan's speech about how the government plans to boost the support it provides to high growth businesses and make the UK "a true scale-up powerhouse".

Donelan said she believes the UK should be home to at least 50% of Europe's new unicorns, the term used to describe businesses valued at more than $1billion. The UK currently accounts for a third. They include Gymshark, Deliveroo, Zoopla and Brewdog.

The technology secretary announced a series of measures to support fast growing companies.

A scale-up forum, made up of tech companies, business support organisations, investors and regulators, will be created to advise the government.

The forum will drive a pilot for a new science and technology focussed scale-up support service with an initial 20 businesses taking part. Donelan said:

"We will guide businesses around the obstacles and help them burst through any barrier that stops them reaching their potential. Connecting them to the best possible advice, whether that's help with generating innovative IP, creating skilled employment, or expanding into overseas markets."

The pilot will include events with the British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association to connect business owners with investors.

In other measures, Donelan said the government will:

  • set up a "scale-up policy sprint" to deliver more support for scale-ups. This is an idea recommended by trade body TechUK "to identify, within six months, new investment vehicles and regulatory changes that could create new investment opportunities into critical technologies such as green tech, AI, quantum and semiconductors".

  • improve access to government data "to fuel even faster growth in scale-ups".

  • create a regulatory support service to help science and technology companies to navigate rules and regulations.

Donelan concluded her speech with:

"The reason I am so passionate about scale-up beyond the obviously economic benefits is simple. Scale-up means new jobs. New jobs mean new skills. New skills means innovation and innovation means economic growth.

"Our communities, our businesses and ultimately our country is richer with every successful scale-up.

"So, let's work together to ensure that 2024 is the year that the UK begins to solidify its place as a long-term scale-up superpower."

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Dan Martin
Dan MartinDan Martin Content & Events
I'm a freelance journalist and event host who helps small businesses and the organisations that support them. I'm also Enterprise Nation's news reporter and Bristol Local Leader. I have 20 years of experience as a small business journalist having interviewed hundreds of entrepreneurs from famous names like Sir Richard Branson and Deborah Meaden to the founders behind brand new start-ups. I've worked for a range of leading small business publications and support groups, most recently as head of content at Enterprise Nation where I was responsible for the prolific output of content on the company's blog and social media. I now freelance for Enterprise Nation as the website's news reporter and as the host of the Small Business sessions podcast. I'm based in Bristol where I run and host regular events with the local small business community in my role as Enterprise Nation's Local Leader for Bristol. I also have strong connections with other major business organisations in the south west region. In total, I've hosted over 100 events including conferences with an audience of hundreds for international brands like Xero and Facebook and live web chats from inside 10 Downing Street. With my partner, I co-run Lifestyle District, a lifestyle blog focused on culture, art, theatre and photography.

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