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Government puts £75m into innovation hubs

Eight innovation ‘launchpads’ will each get a share of the funding for projects covering sectors such as agri-tech, digital healthcare, renewable energy and technologies for the creative industry

The government is pumping £75m into eight regional innovation clusters across the country, aiming to pioneer new technology and boost local economies.

The funding, which comes from Innovate UK, will be shared between the eight innovation “launchpads”, receiving £7.5m each, which will support clusters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs).

The SMEs can bid for tailored support from their local launchpad, including funding for research and development (R&D), access to specialised innovation resources, being able to participate in joint ventures and connect with other SMEs.

The funding comes following a pilot programme which was ran in Liverpool and Teesside earlier in 2023.

Each launchpad focuses on different areas of innovation, specific to the strengths of the region it is located in, aiming to help local SMEs innovate and expand.

Announcing the funding, science and technology minister George Freeman said that research, science and innovation can be found all around the UK.

“From Glasgow satellite manufacturing to Manchester materials, Teeside hydrogen and Liverpool life sciences, alongside as many as 25 other globally recognised hubs around the UK – we have world class R&D – and supporting these regional clusters of world-class innovation is central to our plan to make the UK an ‘innovation nation’,” he said.

“That is why we have launched our flagship launchpads programme – and this £75m investment will support high-growth companies to build the industries of tomorrow – in sectors from renewable energy through to digital health. These launchpads will play a pivotal role in growing our local economies, creating jobs and levelling up the UK.”

Clusters receiving funding include the digital technologies launchpad in North East England, which aims to be at the forefront of digital technologies applied into fast growth and emerging markets, while the health technologies launchpad in West Yorkshire will focus on pioneering breakthroughs in technologies aimed at improving healthcare outcomes.

In Eastern England, an agri-tech and food tech launchpad plans to revolutionise technology in the sector, driving innovation in food production and sustainability. In Coventry and Warwickshire, the immersive and creative industries launchpad will drive technologies for the creative industries.

Innovate UK CEO Indo Mukerjee said that Innovate UK aims to build “strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation”.

“Our new launchpads will help to attract further private sector R&D investment into innovation clusters, growing local economies and delivering societal and economic benefits to local communities,” he said.

In Northern Ireland, the life and health sciences launchpad will focus on advancing healthcare solutions and medical breakthroughs. In Wales, the net-zero industry launchpad will concentrate on sustainable solutions in net-zero industrial emissions.

Commenting on the funding,Welsh secretary of state David TC Davies said: “It is fantastic that £7.5m of UK government funding is coming to Southwest Wales to support the growing net-zero industry in this part of the country. 

“There are some really innovative businesses who are already collaborating with each other and researchers to develop industries of the future, and this launchpad funding will deliver what they need to take their work to the next level.”

SMEs and innovators will be able to bid for a share of the funding from the end of October.

Read more about government and innovation

  • The government’s £60m regional innovation fund aims to support universities in areas with lower R&D investment, while the government is also pumping £8m towards AI scholarships.
  • Some 19 projects focusing on automation and robotic technology will get funding from the Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs to boost the agricultural sector.
  • Report from the Transport Committee calls for investment in technology for the maritime sector, and wants the government to make it easier to scale-up innovation.

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