Press release

Government funding boost for innovative businesses

Nine projects have been awarded £660,000 from the Intellectual Property Office to take their innovative ideas into the marketplace.

This was published under the 2010 to 2015 Conservative and Liberal Democrat coalition government


Nine projects have been awarded £660,000 from the Intellectual Property Office to help businesses take their innovative ideas off the drawing board and into the marketplace.

The prizes, which were awarded as part of this year’s Fast Forward competition, were given out during a ceremony at the University of Birmingham by Intellectual Property Minister, Lord Younger. The winners will each receive funding of between £40,000 and £99,000 for their projects in the horticulture, sport, education, healthcare and games industries.

The Fast Forward competition encourages universities and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) to work collaboratively with businesses and local communities to maximise the benefits of innovation and intellectual property. The competition has been running for the past 4 years and has now given more than £2.7 million in funding to 44 projects.

Minister for Intellectual Property, Lord Younger said:

The UK is a nation of inventors, and each year we see cases of successful businesses that have turned their innovative ideas into products and services for the UK and international markets. Our world-class universities are a key driver of this innovation and we should always look to find new ways of working with them to better support businesses and drive economic growth.

This is why I am so pleased to see so many innovative applications to the Fast Forward competition. The competition this year was tough. I would like to congratulate this year’s winners on their success and I will follow their progress with interest.

The projects that were awarded funding this year through the Fast Forward competition are:

  • Royal Botanic Garden: Horticulture Micropropogation Services - a project that will help small plant breeders to source affordable and flexible services to develop new plant varieties
  • University of Abertay Dundee: Investing in Digital Assets - this project will work with game developers to help them identify and value their intellectual property
  • University of Stirling: Sports innovation challenge – a project that will link in with the 2014 Commonwealth Games and the Ryder Cup to give entrepreneurial students the opportunity to come up with sports company ideas; the best ideas will be supported by the university to form new companies
  • University of Oxford: Encouraging IP uptake for SMEs – a project that will support a new scheme offered by Oxford Isis Innovation that will make it easy and affordable for small and medium businesses to create new intellectual property
  • Plymouth University: App Challenge Model - this project will demonstrate how charities can manage software applications and create health apps
  • University of Dundee: Technology Accelerator Program – this project is designed to bring together students, university staff, industry and SMEs to look at the commercial potential of platform technology
  • Nottingham Trent University: Nottingham Creative IP Project – this project will provide businesses and students in the creative industries with a better understanding of how they can protect their IP
  • Cardiff University: Health Technology Challenge – this project aims to increase innovation in the NHS to find solutions to help healthcare practitioners to deliver better care for patients
  • Lancaster University: Philanthropic crowd-funding of IP through the ‘valley of death’ – this project will develop a new model to overcome the stalling of inventions between academic research and industrial application by trialling internet-based public crowd-funding to support patented medical research

This year more than 60 entries were received for the competition.

Notes to editors

  1. The 2014 Fast Forward Competition awards prizes for projects that improve the management of intellectual property (IP) and knowledge exchange thereby creating new companies or services which benefit both the UK economy and society. It aims to encourage Higher Education Institutions (HEIs) and Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) to work with businesses and local communities to develop innovative practices that set, test, develop or embed best practice.

  2. The Intellectual Property Office (IPO) is within the Department for Business, Innovation, and Skills (BIS) and is responsible for the national framework of intellectual property rights, comprising patents, designs, trade marks and copyright.

  3. Its role is to help manage an IP system that encourages innovation and creativity, balances the needs of consumers and users, promotes strong and competitive markets and is the foundation of the knowledge-based economy. It operates in a national and an international environment and its work is governed by national and international law, including various international treaties relating to intellectual property (IP) to which the United Kingdom is a party.

  4. Further information relating to the Fast Forward competition can be found at:

The winners of the 2014 Fast Forward competition are:

Institution Project name Award
Lancaster University Philanthropic crowd-funding of IP through the “valley of death” £39,962
Cardiff University Health Technology Challenge Wales 2014 £65,000
Nottingham Trent University Nottingham Creative IP Project £69,000
University of Dundee Technology Accelerator Programme £73,000
Plymouth University App Challenge Model – developing software application IP in collaboration with patients and charities £75,645
University of Oxford Encouraging IP uptake for SMEs through the Oxford Isis Smart IP Scheme £77,000
Royal Botanic Gardens Horticultural Micropropagation Services £83,948
University of Abertay Dundee Investing in Digital Assets £85,668
University of Stirling Sports Innovation Challenge £98,719

5.The government’s economic policy objective is to achieve ‘strong, sustainable and balanced growth that is more evenly shared across the country and between industries’. It set 4 ambitions in the ‘Plan for Growth’, published at Budget 2011:

  • to create the most competitive tax system in the G20
  • to make the UK the best place in Europe to start, finance and grow a business
  • to encourage investment and exports as a route to a more balanced economy
  • to create a more educated workforce that is the most flexible in Europe

Work is underway across government to achieve these ambitions, including progress on more than 250 measures as part of the Growth Review. Developing an Industrial Strategy gives new impetus to this work by providing businesses, investors and the public with more clarity about the long-term direction in which the government wants the economy to travel.

Published 13 March 2014