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The Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS) has announced a £20 million government fund to find new technology-enabled ways to ensure the continuation of work and productivity amid the pandemic and similar future situations.
New innovations will support sectors ranging from delivery services and food manufacturing to retail and transport.
The proposals will be reviewed as part of a competition launched by Innovate UK, where businesses registered in the UK are able to submit ideas to address the new and urgent needs that have emerged during and following the Covid-19 outbreak.
Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to the winning businesses developing new ways of working, and will help to build resilience in each of the industries chosen by the government as core areas of focus.
The competition opened on 3 April and closes on 17 April.
“The Covid-19 situation is not just a health emergency, but also one that affects the economy and society. With that in mind, Innovate UK has launched this rapid response competition, seeking smart ideas from innovators,” said Ian Campbell, executive chair at Innovate UK.
“The UK needs a great national effort and Innovate UK is helping by unleashing the power of innovation for people and businesses in need.”
Examples of potential technologies the government wants to see include solutions that would allow retailers to better respond to sudden spikes in demand, services for monitoring elderly or vulnerable relatives, and education tools which integrate the classroom and home environments, and support vulnerable children.
All selected projects will start by June 2020 and will last up to six months. According to BEIS, products and services created under the initiative are expected to be available to the public towards the end of 2020.