The £40 million government funding from a £211 million government investment package to support and encourage the UK's next generation of innovative start-ups and enterprises to develop new technological advances. It is a part of a broader investment package of £1.25 billion for innovative UK businesses, announced by the Chancellor on 20 April 2020. The funding benefits projects include I3d Robotics building virtual reality training platforms for surgeons to enable medical students to upskill remotely and perform simulation surgeries, virtual farmers' markets, and other innovations borne out of the coronavirus pandemic. It will deliver practical solutions such as new virtual farmer's markets and entertainment platforms to bring the best British produce and cultural entertainment to homes.
In April, the Fast Start Competition launched and managed by Innovate UK.
The competition aims to fast-track the development of innovations borne out of the coronavirus crisis. It will help to build the UK's tomorrow's businesses and propel their future prosperity. Furthermore, to deliver potential solutions, services, and ways of working and help ensure these businesses' long-term sustainability.
The ideas can genuinely make a significant impact on society and improve individuals' lives, especially those in vulnerable groups, and enable businesses to prosper in challenging circumstances.
Innovate the UK received a record number of applications – over 8,600 to the Fast Start Competition and will now distribute investment to over 800 projects.
‘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 neighborhoods.
Elchies Estates Limited is setting up new virtual farmers' markets to replace traditional markets closed due to COVID-19, providing a platform for local businesses and farmers to sell their produce. The platform aims to offer all sizes of fresh and frozen farm produce from an ‘open all hours' location. Being able to sell local produce in a completely safe and domestic environment welcomed, especially by the many older customers of our farmers' markets and farm events, canceled for the foreseeable future.
For customers living in rural areas, the project will allow them to continue to access great local produce with minimal food miles and, for the first time, 24/7. The UK Government would continue to provide community while safeguarding themselves, farm, and contractors.
Business Secretary Alok Sharma announced the government is doubling investment in the Fast Start Competition with an additional £20 million.
The Exchequer Secretary to the Treasury Kemi Badenoch said:
The UK is a world-leader in research and development, and our ability to innovate will be key to tackling this crisis.
Executive Chair, Innovate UK, Dr Ian Campbell, said that “Businesses from all over the UK have answered our call rapidly to meet the challenges we face today and in the future through innovation.”
Farm Manager & Directors Elchies Estates Limited Julie Comins and Brian Cameron said that “The virtual farmers' market project responds to the short-and-medium-term implications of COVID-19 and the change in food buying patterns.”
Source: Press Release - 20 May 2020, Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy, Innovate the UK, and The Rt Hon Alok Sharma MP