Business ideas for 2013: Knowledge-based products and services

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Since the financial bubble burst successive Labour and coalition governments have talked about rebalancing the economy away from the City and towards knowledge-based manufacturing and services sectors.

With this renewed interest in production comes not just goodwill, but investment too. Businesses, especially those that spin out of universities, can benefit hugely from government money as long as they are focused on the right areas.

Late in January ministers announced a £600m investment in what it calls ‘eight great technologies', including space technology, robotics, big data, and research into advanced materials such as grapheme. The money came hot on the heels of a £108m funding pot announced in the Autumn Statement for UK Life Sciences.

Announcing the money, science minister David Willets said: “[We are making] real decisions on backing key technologies on their journey from the lab to the marketplace. It is the missing third pillar to any successful high tech strategy.

“It is R&D and technology and engineering as distinct from pure science. It is our historic failure to back this which lies behind the familiar problems of the so-called ‘valley of death' between scientific discoveries and commercial applications.”

As Startups' sister brand Growing Business reported, the anticipated roll-out of government-backed Catapult Centres, run by the Technology Strategy Board, will happen this year. All this means innovation in engineering and technology will remain at the fore for years to come.

Published Mar 2013

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