Launchpads to deliver local growth through innovation support

Two technicians in distance discussing between long rows of photovoltaic panels

A pioneering initiative will build on local innovation strengths, supporting small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to deliver jobs, growth, and higher productivity.

The first Launchpad pilot areas have been announced in Tees Valley and Liverpool City Region, with the first grant funding opportunities open for local businesses to be followed by opportunities to support cluster leadership.

The Tees Valley Launchpad aims to support Tees Valley in becoming a regional hub for net zero innovation for Yorkshire, Humber and the north-east. It will focus on:

  • hydrogen
  • carbon capture utilisation and storage
  • offshore wind energy.

The Liverpool City Region Launchpad will focus on the advanced manufacturing sector, with digital technologies and net zero outcomes, building on the local economic strengths, research and development (R&D) assets, and strategic priorities.

Bids from across UK

Following the opening of the 2 pilot Launchpads, bids from across the UK will shortly be welcomed by Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation. This will identify partners and determine locations of the next wave of Launchpad investments.

An opportunity for expressions of interest will be run this autumn.

Supporting local innovation

Innovate UK CEO Indro Mukerjee said:

Innovate UK has been building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation.

Today’s launch of the Liverpool City Region and Tees Valley Launchpads is an important step and another example of active collaboration with regional partners to deliver growth and productivity through innovation.

Developed in co-creation

Each of the 2 Launchpad pilots has been developed in co-creation with local leadership including the Metro Mayor’s teams and is tailored to the local innovation ecosystem.

Grants starting at £15,000 are available for business-led innovation projects, alongside wrap-around support for growth.

Clean industrial growth

The Tees Valley Launchpad will build on existing economic assets and investments in Tees Valley, including Teesside Freeport, which is creating a hub for Innovation and clean industrial growth.

Activity will support levelling-up the Tees Valley economy, growing key sectors and increasing productivity.

Technological and supply chain benefits within an established ecosystem will also bring wider geographical value and contribution to the national economy.

Building on local strengths

The Liverpool City Region Launchpad will focus on the advanced manufacturing sector, with digital technologies and net zero outcomes, building on the local economic strengths, R&D assets and strategic priorities.

The area includes STFC’s Daresbury Laboratory at the Sci-Tech Daresbury campus, and extends:

  • Liverpool City Region
  • Warrington
  • Cheshire west and Chester
  • Deeside
  • south Lancashire.

About the Launchpads

The Launchpad programme is a new Innovate UK innovation cluster development programme. The programme has an initial £15 million investment over 3 years to cover the first Launchpad pilot period and to help strengthen place-based innovation clusters in parts of the UK.

The key objective is to ensure more places in the UK host world-leading and globally connected innovation clusters, creating more jobs, growth, and productivity in those areas.

Following the announcement of the first 2 pilot Launchpads, the initial competitions are now open for bids from businesses in Tees Valley and Liverpool City Region to apply for grants.

A further opportunity will follow in the autumn, through which local leaders will be able to help Innovate UK to determine the locations of the next wave of Launchpads.

Fast Start winners

This announcement comes on the same day that the latest winners of the Innovate UK Fast Start competition are announced.

Over 600 new companies based in regions across the UK have been awarded Innovate UK funding of up to £50,000 grants with tailored business support, through Innovate UK EDGE.

A total of £30 million of grants have been awarded to back innovations in one or more of the 7 technology areas outlined in the government’s Innovation Strategy.

You can find out more about the Launchpad pilot areas and the Innovate UK Fast Start competition winners on the Innovate UK website.

Top image:  Credit: vm, E+ via Getty Images

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