The government has offered a total of £20 million in funding to encourage businesses and innovators come up with new ideas which will help the UK build its resilience to the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak and similar situations in the future.
Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak.
In normal times, such investment in entrepreneurial ideas would usually be expected to come from private investment via venture capital, equity investment or angels.
Innovations could include:
- new technology allowing retailers to respond better to sudden spikes of consumer demand and improve deliveries across the UK
- new services for families to connect with and remotely monitor their elderly or vulnerable relatives, giving people peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving the services they require such as food deliveries, doctor’s appointments and paying bills
- creating education tools which seamlessly integrate the classroom with the kitchen table, allowing teachers to remotely set dynamic tasks, support vulnerable children and make certain no child is left behind
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The response of researchers and businesses to the coronavirus outbreak have been remarkable. This new investment will support the development of technologies that can help industries, communities and individuals adapt to new ways of working when situations like this, and other incidents, arise.”
Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair Innovate UK, added: “The COVID-19 situation is not just a health emergency, but also one that affects the economy and society. With that in mind, Innovate UK has launched this rapid response competition today seeking smart ideas from innovators. These could be proposals to help the distribution of goods, educate children remotely, keep families digitally connected and even new ideas to stream music and entertainment. The UK needs a great national effort and Innovate UK is helping by unleashing the power of innovation for people and businesses in need.”
The proposals will be reviewed as part of a competition launched by Innovate UK, seeking the best new ideas from businesses.
All the projects will begin by June 2020 and will last up to 6 months, with products and services expected to be available to the public towards the end of this year.