Regional clusters of world-class innovation across the UK are being backed by a share of £75 million that will boost local economies and pioneer game-changing solutions from healthcare to net zero, UK Science Minister George Freeman has announced.
Following pilots in Liverpool and Teesside, launched earlier this year, a further 8 Launchpads, facilitated by Innovate UK, will be rolled out across every nation of the UK. These initiatives will build on existing clusters of high-tech innovation in each region, such as renewable energy in Southwest Wales, Agri-tech in East Anglia and digital health in Yorkshire.
Launchpads is a programme that supports emerging clusters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing each Launchpad up to £7.5 million from Innovate UK to fund innovation projects led by local businesses.
The £7.5 million bespoke funding from each Launchpad will allow SMEs in each region to bid for support that is tailored to the unique needs of each business cluster, helping them drive innovation, expand operations, and boost their local economies.
Launchpads concentrate their support in specific areas of the UK with strong innovation capabilities. This approach encourages close collaboration with local leaders and provides tailored support, including funding for research and development, access to specialised innovation resources, and opportunities for SMEs to connect, share ideas, and participate in joint ventures.
George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, who has made government support for regional R&D and innovation clusters a key priority, said:
‘The UK science, research and innovation economy is not just the ‘golden triangle’ of Cambridge-Oxford-London. It is all around the UK.
‘This £75 million investment will support high-growth companies to build the industries of tomorrow – in sectors from renewable energy through to digital health. These Launchpads will play a pivotal role in growing our local economies, creating jobs and levelling up the UK.’
The funding follows a competitive bidding process involving more than 40 proposals from across the UK put forward by local leaders and carefully evaluated by a panel of Innovate UK directors, sector experts and academics.
The project aims to establish world-leading, globally interconnected innovation clusters, catalysing increased employment, economic growth, and productivity within these regions.
Relevant clusters to receive funding include:
- Digital Technologies Launchpad – Positioned in North East England, this Launchpad will be at the forefront of digital technologies applied into fast growth and emerging markets
- Health Technologies Launchpad – Based in West Yorkshire, this Launchpad is dedicated to pioneering breakthroughs in technologies that will improve healthcare outcomes
- Bio-based Manufacturing Launchpad – Positioned in Scotland, this Launchpad will drive innovations in bio-based manufacturing, promoting sustainable production methods
- Life and Health Sciences Launchpad – Situated in Northern Ireland, this Launchpad is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare solutions and medical breakthroughs.