News story

Small businesses to benefit from £1.1 million innovation boost

New Innovation Vouchers for businesses who want to use public open data to develop new ideas, improve processes and target new markets.

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

Two men examinig formula
©iStockphoto.com/H-Gall

Innovation is vital for business growth. The aim is simple – to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation.

A £2 million fund has been created for the Innovation Vouchers scheme, running over the next 3 years. The vouchers provide £5000 for a UK start-up, micro, small or medium-sized businesses to work with external experts and gain new knowledge to help their business.

The extra £1.1 million announced today is for companies who want to use public open data to commercialise their ideas and develop products and prototypes.

An open data business innovator or inventors could use an Innovation Voucher by:

  • growing services and solutions using open data
  • developing an idea into a working prototype
  • integrating open data with other data sources to develop products and prototypes
  • seeking intellectual property advice in respect of ideas incorporating open data

The scheme is already open to businesses who want to develop ideas relating to the agri-food, built environment, space industries, energy, water and waste sectors, with a hundred vouchers allocated every 3 months.

The latest figures from round one show that over 200 projects were successful in the draw for Innovation Vouchers for agri-food, built environment and space.

Making the announcement, Universities and Science Minister David Willetts said:

“This new wave of Innovation Vouchers will give SMEs a great opportunity to bid for funding that can make a real difference to the growth of their business ideas.

“They will be able to develop exciting proposals that can make use of open data, which have the potential to unlock great value and boost economic growth.”

Innovation Vouchers

People will be able to apply for the Innovation Vouchers directly through the Technology Strategy Board and the Open Data Institute (ODI).

Business can use their Innovation Vouchers to work with knowledge suppliers such as:

  • universities and further education colleges
  • research and technology organisations
  • technical consultancies
  • catapult centres
  • design advisers
  • intellectual property advisers

The additional funding for open data vouchers comes after BIS announced this week new measures to open up access to public data, including a new £7.5 million Data Strategy Board Breakthrough Fund and a new £850,000 open data Immersion Programme which will assist public organisations and companies in opening up new opportunities for data.

Published 14 December 2012