Business-led schemes set to boost growth all over the UK

The Innovate UK Launchpad programme gathers pace with £16 million funding being offered for 101 new projects.

The Innovate UK Launchpad programme supports clusters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and the most innovative businesses to progress their ideas towards commercialisation, contributing to local economic growth.

Each Launchpad has been developed in collaboration with local leadership to strengthen innovation in targeted clusters across the UK.

Eight Innovate UK Launchpads were announced in October 2023 and today’s announcement marks the first round of investments, providing each cluster with an equal share of £16 million.

These investments will contribute to growing innovative businesses across the following eight clusters.

Net zero industry Launchpad

Located in south-west Wales, this Launchpad is dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable solutions in net zero industrial emissions.

Funding has initially been offered for six projects, advancing sustainable technologies, including:

  • green hydrogen
  • modular solar power
  • floating wind technologies

Digital technologies Launchpad

Positioned in north-east England, this Launchpad will be at the forefront of digital technologies applied to fast-growing and emerging markets.

Thirteen projects received an offer of funding.

Eight of them focused on making significant advances in artificial intelligence (AI) or machine learning.

Health technologies Launchpad

Based in West Yorkshire, this Launchpad is dedicated to pioneering breakthroughs in technologies that will improve healthcare outcomes.

Of the 10 projects offered funding, four are centred on the use of AI and data within healthcare.

Agri-tech and food technology Launchpad

Located in eastern England, this Launchpad will revolutionise agri-tech and food technology, driving innovation in food production and sustainability.

The 12 projects offered funding cover the full breath of the sector, including:

  • improving the yield and nutritional value of crops
  • automating harvesting
  • producing food and drinks with enhanced health benefits

Marine and maritime Launchpad

Located in the Great South West, this Launchpad will support initiatives in marine and maritime industries, fostering growth and sustainability in this sector.

Twelve projects have been offered funding across clean maritime, marine autonomy and digital marine technologies with an emphasis on water quality and monitoring and uncrewed surface vessels.

All the projects aim to make our oceans safer and support the transition towards a net zero ocean economy.

Bio-based manufacturing Launchpad

Positioned in Scotland, this Launchpad will drive innovations in bio-based manufacturing, promoting sustainable production methods.

Thirteen projects have been offered funding that cover a wide range of innovations, including:

  • feedstocks
  • sustainable peat-free growing media
  • seaweed processing
  • wastewater treatment screening

Immersive and creative industries Launchpad

Located in Coventry and Warwickshire in the West Midlands, this Launchpad has offered funding to 13 projects, with businesses developing technologies for the creative industries and immersive applications in industry.

Innovate UK will deliver this Launchpad in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council, which supports the universities at the heart of this cluster.

Life and health sciences Launchpad

Situated in Northern Ireland, this Launchpad is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare solutions and medical breakthroughs.

Funding has initially been offered to 14 projects across digital health, biotech therapeutics and diagnostics and medical technologies disciplines.

As part of the investments, Innovate UK has awarded funding for cluster management within each of the eight Launchpad areas.

Local cluster managers will work with stakeholders to convene local innovators, provide networking activities, and support SME businesses to benefit from the full range of support available.

This includes attracting the inward investment required to support the growth and scale-up of innovation in the cluster.

Successful 2022 pilots

Innovate UK Launchpads were successfully piloted in 2022 with a share of £15 million in funding for clusters in the Tees Valley and Liverpool City Region.

Additionally, in the Spring Budget 2024, the UK government announced £5 million for an agri-food launchpad for mid and north Wales that will soon open for its first applications.

Backing ideas that grow local economies

Science, Innovation and Research Minister, Andrew Griffith, said:

Innovators from every corner of the UK can benefit from support to break through, and our initial £16m of Launchpads funding is helping more than 100 small and medium businesses to turn the seed of an idea into a potentially pioneering discovery.

From agri-tech in east England to sustainable manufacturing in Scotland, work in Wales advancing Net Zero to novel efforts in Northern Ireland to boost our thriving life sciences sector, we are backing ideas that can grow local economies and help us all live healthier lives.

Committed to supporting regional growth

Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive at Innovate UK commented:

As the UK’s innovation agency, Innovate UK is committed to supporting regional growth and nurturing technology clusters across the UK.

Our Launchpads will help to attract further private sector R&D investment into innovation clusters, growing local economies and delivering societal and economic benefits to local communities.

Today, we are pleased to announce details on these new projects that help SME businesses benefit from our Launchpad support.

Further information

About Innovate UK Launchpads

Find information, updates and announcements on Innovate UK launchpads.

Find wider opportunities for support at the Innovation Hub website.

The pilot Launchpads

Tees Valley pilot

Tees Valley was selected as the location for the net zero Launchpad with the initial focus of offshore wind, hydrogen production, distribution and usage, and carbon capture, usage and storage within the net zero theme.

Liverpool City Region pilot

This pilot focused on the manufacturing sector, with digital technologies and net zero outcomes, building on the local economic strengths, research and development assets and strategic priorities.

Top image:  Credit: Olena Lishchyshyna, iStock, Getty Images Plus via Getty Images

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