The government has launched a new series of loans worth £150 million to support innovative SMEs and level up the UK, supported by an independent interim evaluation of the pilot.
The competitions will offer businesses support their research and development projects, the government has said.
The loans will support innovations deemed to have the strongest potential to support future economic growth and tackle social challenges.
The funding, delivered through Innovate UK, will be available to small and medium sized-enterprises (SMEs) over the next three years.
Businesses can apply for funding through the Innovation Funding Service.
Previous projects supported via the successful loan programme have included portable freezers able to safely deliver vaccines to care homes and surgeries; a platform designed to protect hospitals and healthcare centres from cyber-attacks during the pandemic and patented hospital screens preventing the transmission of pathogens and viruses.
Businesses with innovative late-stage projects can apply for a loan between £100,000 and £2 million, with flexible repayment terms to help secure their future growth and commercial success.
The new full-scale programme will start with monthly competition rounds, for which applicants will need to demonstrate evidence of a high-quality proposed innovation project, suitability to take on a loan but an inability to access finance for their project from commercial finance providers.
The innovation loans programmes to date have committed £163 million to around 200 businesses in all parts of the UK.
It has enabled new product development and commercialisation activities, supporting investment in research jobs and delivering growing levels of sales.
Over a third of businesses in the portfolio have accessed additional private investment, leveraging new capital of over £110 million, with an average raise of £1.8 million.
Science Minister George Freeman said: “As the success of our extraordinary vaccine development roll-out made clear, the UK is home to some of the most brilliant and innovative minds in the world.
“Supporting our talented innovators, not only to develop their ideas but to see these ideas through to commercialisation, will be essential to growing an economy built on the technologies of the future, and securing the UK’s status as a true innovation nation.
“So, I am thrilled that after an extremely successful pilot programme, Innovate UK are launching this substantial new series of loans to support SMEs working across the country on the most innovative projects for the future economy, entrenching our position as a science superpower.”
Indro Mukerjee, CEO of Innovate UK, added: “Innovation loans are an important part of the investment support that Innovate UK offers to help UK businesses achieve their growth ambitions.
“We have tested this new form of support rigorously and I am pleased that we can now offer £150 million over the next three years through innovation loans as part of our commitment to support innovative businesses to grow rapidly and achieve scale.”