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£561m innovation funding revealed for 2016/17

Innovate UK has announced its delivery plan for 2016/17, including the latest round of funding to support projects that address the challenges of delivering low carbon, secure and affordable energy.

Innovate UK has announced its delivery plan for 2016/17, including the latest round of funding to support projects that address the challenges of delivering low carbon, secure and affordable energy. 

The agency, which is responsible for government funding for innovation, has set out its plans to spend £561 million on support programmes during 2016/17. 

The funding will be split across four key sectors:

  • Emerging and Enabling Technologies: identifying and investing in technologies and capabilities that will lead to new products, processes and services of tomorrow
  • Health and Life Sciences: focusing on technologies developed in bioscience and medical research for agriculture, food and healthcare
  • Infrastructure Systems: covering major global market opportunities in optimising transport and energy systems and integrating them with other systems
  • Manufacturing and Materials: advancing manufacturing readiness so R&D and technology developments can be delivered at scale.

Regular competitions

Mike Biddle, portfolio development lead at Innovate UK, said: “This year we will be running our competitions on a more predictable and regular ‘drum beat’. There will be two competitions every year in each of our four sector groups and in our open programme.

“We recognise that really exciting ideas also come from areas outside our sector groups, which is why we also have two ‘open’ competitions a year. These will accept proposals on any topic to ensure every business from every sector of the economy has a route to apply for funding.”

‘Dramatic impact’

Dr Ruth McKernan CBE, chief executive of Innovate UK, described the impact of the agency since 2007 as “dramatic”.

“We have invested around £1.8 billion in innovation, which has been more than matched by the private sector - returning between £11.5 billion and £13.1 billion to the economy. We have supported innovation in 7,600 organisations, creating around 55,000 new jobs”, she said.

Energy Catalyst

Meanwhile, the fourth round of Innovate UK’s Energy Catalyst competition has opened to applicants.

The £9 million competition aims to support innovative businesses and researchers developing technologies that could tackle the so-called ‘energy trilemma’ of reducing emissions, improving energy security and cutting costs. 

The funding can support organisations through technical feasibility, technology development and pre-commercial validation.

Previous winners include Lancashire-based Oaktec, an engineering firm which received £214,000 to test the feasibility of an engine system that uses untreated gas from landfill sites to power a biogas engine. 

The latest round of funding closes on 14 September 2016.