Innovation in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly

Goonhilly earth observation station at night

To celebrate Cornish innovation and highlight the contribution that vibrant business clusters bring to local growth, join Innovate Local on 8 February 2022.

Building on the legacy of hosting the G7 summit in June, I want to highlight the opportunities for the rapidly growing and credible business base in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly. Businesses who are championing innovation in areas such as:

  • space and data
  • energy and climate
  • a rise in digital innovation.

I also want to highlight the opportunity for regional businesses to find out more about the support, loans and grants available by attending our Innovate Local event, on 8 February 2022.

If you are not familiar with the business landscape in Cornwall and Isles of Scilly, let me elaborate!

Natural powerhouse

When I think of a Cornish landscape, I think of wind! My grandfather was based for a time at RAF St Mawgan and recalls it being the windiest place on the planet that he’d ever visited, and he is not wrong.

Natural capital and assets (think wind and sunshine) are abundant, positioning Cornwall and Isles of Scilly as a ‘natural powerhouse’, meeting energy demands with alternative green and blue resources:

  • wind and tidal energy
  • critical minerals
  • geothermal resources.

Cornwall itself produces 40% of its domestic energy from renewable sources and will be net zero by 2030.

The Cornwall Floating Offshore Wind Accelerator and Celtic Sea Power are strategically transforming the region into a world leader in floating offshore wind. They provide expertise in installation, access to supply chains and valuable knowledge transfer. They are supported by the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult, which is key in supporting a wide range of marine and maritime innovations in the region.

Mining legacy

Extraction of critical minerals, including lithium, is providing the UK with a domestic source of vital electric battery components.

Mining core samples

Mining core samples (image courtesy of Cornwall Trade and Investment)

British Lithium with help from Innovate UK EDGE secured a £2.9 million Innovate UK grant to:

  • support a pilot lithium extraction plant
  • accelerate its route to commercialisation
  • provide critical natural resources to boost the UK’s electric vehicle manufacturing industry.

Cornish Lithium, Faraday Battery Challenge award winners, recently received a notable transformational investment package of up to £18 million from TechMet Limited, a leading technology metals investment company.

Cornish projects are leading the way in environmentally responsible mineral exploration and extraction for the metals that are crucial to the energy transition. This is shown by the success of creating this supply chain and the tech development opportunities surrounding lithium.

Mining for minerals and metals in Cornwall dates back to the Bronze Age, driving the first industrial revolution and now playing its part in Industry 4.0.


This leads me to discuss the rise in digital. Digital is at the heart of Cornish creativity. Since 2010 digital businesses registered in Cornwall have risen by 76% and with 90% of the peninsula connected via superfast broadband, gaming, artificial intelligence (AI) and e-health tech are on the rise.

As a result of the COVID fast track grants we awarded in 2020, Touchbyte were able to launch their face recognition technology platform into the market place.

Futuristic and technological scanning of face for facial recognition

Credit: Prostock-Studio, Getty Images


There is also an emergent space sector. Spaceport Cornwall is a commercial satellite launch site, partnered with Goonhilly Earth Station and Virgin Orbit. This is not just about launching satellites into deep space and autonomous flight, this is about critical earth and ocean observation.

Satellite data can be used to support many different sectors with their carbon neutral plans. Notably energy and agri-tech but also tourism, AI and digital companies can benefit from this data, using it to connect globally.

Earlier this year building started on a new aviation centre, as part of Spaceport Cornwall’s Centre for Space Technologies, a £5.8 million development that includes a satellite integration and mission operations facility. This will provide opportunities for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt and diffuse key technologies in downstream applications such as:

  • satellite communications
  • Internet of Things
  • earth observation
  • in-orbit servicing.

With the support from the Satellite Applications Catapult, the presence of Spaceport Cornwall will also inspire a future generation of regional talent and skills for space tech entrepreneurs.

Planet Earth from space at night

Credit: Nastco, Getty Images

Innovate Local

So, if you are an innovative business or looking to become an innovative business, and based in Cornwall, look no further than to register for our Innovate Local event, 8 February 2022. This event will focus on the opportunities for regional businesses to learn about the support they can access for scaling their innovation activities, including grant funding and investment.

Working with the Cornwall and Isles of Scilly LEP and Growth and Skills Hub, the aim of the event is to:

  • highlight the importance of innovation to your business
  • inspire you to innovate
  • signpost you to the support available from Innovate UK and that available locally.

Our event will:

  • highlight the vital contribution that vibrant business innovation clusters can bring to local growth
  • highlight how they can help attract investment and talent
  • contribute to putting Cornwall and Isles of Scilly on the map as a location of choice for global corporations.

Plan for action

As we set out in our recently published action plan, by working in regional partnerships, we want to prioritise better connection and alignment between national and local innovation programmes and strategies. This will increase local impact and improve productivity in places across the UK through the wider diffusion and adoption of cutting-edge technologies.

Join us on 8 February

Register now for Innovate Local south-west.

Hear from our CEO Indro Mukerjee on the importance of place and levelling up. Speak to inspirational business leaders on the growing opportunities in space tech and natural energy resources, discussing how Cornwall has a growing number of opportunities to in these areas for ambitious companies.

Listen to SMEs that have benefited from support and funding and what it means to them. Including the challenges their business has faced over the last two years and how they overcame them.

Afternoon workshops will provide learning about:

  • how to access Innovate UK funding and finance
  • how to structure a successful application
  • the benefits from working with regional universities and academic expertise.


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Top image:  Goonhilly Earth observation station at night (image courtesy of Cornwall Trade and Investment)

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