Regional innovation hubs to receive £75m for local SMEs and research

The government Launchpads programme will fund local projects to boost regional clusters of innovation and economies across the UK.

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Regional clusters of innovation across the UK are to share £75m of funding to boost local businesses and economies.

Launchpads is a programme that supports emerging clusters of SMEs by providing each Launchpad with up to £7.5m from Innovate UK to fund projects led by local businesses.

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.

Following pilots in Liverpool and Teesside launched earlier this year, a further eight Launchpads will now be rolled out across the UK. These initiatives will build on existing clusters of high-tech innovation in each region, such as renewable energy in South West Wales, agritech in East Anglia and digital health in Yorkshire.  

The success of the programme is already showing – Teesside University, for example, has taken the lead in net-zero research projects, investing in initiatives like waste diversion technologies to reduce landfill waste and protect the environment. 

Elsewhere, funding for Liverpool City Region is backing 23 green projects, including an eco-friendly concrete block to help protect coastal communities against climate change-related flooding – and has also supported dozens of jobs.

“The UK science, research and innovation economy is not just the ‘golden triangle’ of Cambridge-Oxford-London. It is all around the UK,” says George Freeman MP, minister of state at the department for science, innovation and technology.

“From Glasgow satellite manufacturing to Manchester materials, Teesside hydrogen and Liverpool life sciences, alongside as many as 25 other globally recognised hubs around the UK, we have world class R&D – and supporting these regional clusters of world class innovation is central to our plan to make the UK an ‘Innovation Nation’.

The eight new clusters are:

  • Net Zero Industry Launchpad: Located in South West Wales, this Launchpad is dedicated to sustainable solutions in net-zero industrial emissions;
  • Digital Technologies Launchpad: In North East England, this Launchpad will focus on 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;
  • Agritech and Food Tech Launchpad: In Eastern England, this Launchpad will explore agritech and food technology, driving innovation in food production and sustainability;
  • Marine and Maritime Launchpad: Located in the South West, this Launchpad will support initiatives in marine and maritime industries, focussing on growth and sustainability in this sector;
  • Bio-based Manufacturing Launchpad: Out of Scotland, this Launchpad will drive innovations in bio-based manufacturing, promoting sustainable production methods;
  • Immersive and Creative Industries Launchpad: In Coventry and Warwickshire in the West Midlands, this Launchpad will focus on technologies for the creative industries and immersive experiences;
  • Life and Health Sciences Launchpad: In Northern Ireland, this Launchpad is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare solutions and medical breakthroughs.

The funding allocation follows a competitive bidding process involving more than 40 proposals from across the UK put forward by local leaders and evaluated by a panel of Innovate UK directors, sector experts and academics.

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Kirstie is a freelance journalist writing in the tech, startup and business spaces for publications including Sifted, TNW, UKTN, The Business Magazine and Maddyness UK. She also works closely with agencies such as CEW Communications to develop content for their startup and scaleup clients.

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