£20 million government funding boost for cutting-edge start-ups

Photo shows: Stroud Farmers Market set up a food hub, similar InnovateUK's funded Elchies Estates in Scotland
Stroud Farmers Market

The government has announced it is doubling its investment in the scheme it first announced in April, to help innovative businesses and start-ups seeking to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis.

The extra £20 million brings the total government investment in its Fast Start Competition to £40 million.

Among the successful projects to receive the funding to date, is a virtual-reality surgical training simulator and an online farmers’ market platform.

Business Secretary, Alok Sharma, said: “This funding will support UK start-ups to deliver potential solutions, services and ways of working and help ensure the long term sustainability of these businesses.

The investment comes from a £211 million government support package to drive forward business-led innovation and is part of a wider investment package of £1.25 billion for innovative UK businesses, announced by the Chancellor on 20 April.

Innovate UK received a record number of applications – more than 8,600 to the Fast Start Competition and will now be able to distribute investment to more than 800 projects.

Projects receiving funding include: I3d Robotics which is building a virtual-reality training/teaching platform to enable medical students to upskill remotely and perform simulation surgeries.

Volunteero Ltd has developed a social media app to connect local communities and allow volunteers to target support to the most vulnerable members in their neighbourhoods.

Elchies Estates Limited is setting up new virtual farmers’ markets to replace traditional markets which have had to close as a result of COVID-19, providing a platform for local businesses and farmers to sell produce.

Executive Chair, at Swindon-based Innovate UK, Dr Ian Campbell, said: “Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through the power of innovation.

“The ideas we have seen can truly make a significant impact on society, improve the lives of individuals, especially those in vulnerable groups and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.”

The Fast Start Competition was launched in April in response to the outbreak and is being managed by Innovate UK.