8 Nov 2017
Dr Ruth McKernan, CEO of Innovate UK, today announced the launch of a loans programme for UK SMEs in the later stages of product and/or service development.
Speaking at the Innovate 2017 conference, Dr McKernan said the loans are designed to help businesses ‘fill the gap between proof of concept and then getting their product, or service, out on the market’.
The first competition launched is for R&D businesses in the energy and infrastructure sectors, who will compete for funding from a £10 million fund dedicated to these industries.
Each successful business will receive a loan between £100,000 and £1m to help fund their project. The pilot loan scheme will take place over two years – ending in late-2019 – and will invest up to £50m for innovative projects.
The loan will cover a ten-year period on ‘flexible and affordable’ terms, Dr McKernan said.
‘The UK really needs businesses to innovate so that we can stay competitive as an advanced economy, and so we can create jobs that will drive up growth and productivity,’ said Dr McKernan, adding that we ‘need to be able to do things others can’t’ to succeed in this aim.
The announcement follows the publication of ‘Scaling up: the investor perspective’ by Innovate UK on 3 November, which found UK scale-up businesses lack support when looking for investment and growth in the company.
Dr McKernan noted the steady decline in %GDP in science and technology over the last 40 years, perhaps correlated with the UK’s waning standing in global innovative output – falling from second to fifth in the same time period.
However, she said, the government’s Industrial Strategy ‘recognises this problem and puts research and innovation at the very heart of the economy. We are really strong in bringing together different aspects of technology, and that is what is needed for an industrial revolution.’
SCI welcomes Innovate UK's continued support for the UK's many exciting and innovative SMEs at a critical stage in their product development – late-stage innovation – enabling companies to push through the final barrier, and turn science into business for the benefit of society.
By Georgina Hines