Innovate UK is making a new fund available to help small businesses expand overseas.
Britain’s manufacturing industry slumped to its lowest level in more than three years. Credit: Fotolia
A new £1.2m fund has been set up help small and innovative UK firms to work with international businesses, seek out new global markets and supply chains, an innovation agency announced today.
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The money has been pledged by Innovate UK in order to small businesses to travel abroad and build international networks, establish commercial research and development partnerships and see how their innovations could translate to a new market.
The competition is expected to encourage UK firms to create long term partnerships with overseas companies with a particular focus on emerging markets.
Commenting on the fund, Science Minister Jo Johnson said: “There are so many innovative companies up and down the country, challenging norms and pioneering new technologies. As science and research becomes more international we want to encourage these companies to forge collaborations across the globe that will help bring their products to mass market.
“By supporting them to showcase our innovation expertise, we can attract investment, create jobs and help to grow the UK economy.”
Chief Executive of Innovate UK, Dr Ruth McKernan, said: “This competition is about pushing out the horizon for companies that haven’t had the means, or inclination to think globally in the past. It will get ideas off the drawing board and into markets around the world, with new partners they may not even have imagined working with previously.
“Business, like science, is a global endeavour. Now more than ever, it is critical that UK companies continue to partner with other businesses and research establishments right across world if they are to remain competitive.”
There will be a competitive process to decide which businesses receive the funding, to ensure that only the very best businesses are funded. The feasibility studies can focus upon any global market, though reasons for pursuing the specific market must be clearly described.
The potential impacts and follow-on activities envisaged should also be detailed within the application, which is only open to small and medium sized enterprises.
Innovation is vital to future economic growth. Ninety-five per cent of business R&D and innovation is conducted outside of the UK, and knowledge exchange and businesses seeking new markets, skills and partners are increasingly doing so on a global basis. There is also a strong positive correlation between companies that develop a global footprint and their subsequent growth.
This sort of support is particularly important when taking in to account the fact that UK industry and innovation centres have, so far, won €680 million from the European research funding mechanism ‘Horizon 2020’ – or about a third of the total funding won by the UK from Horizon 2020.