Position statement

Supporting businesses to grow and scale


As the UK’s main public funder of research and innovation, UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) plays a critical role in helping businesses to grow. UKRI is responsible for building a world-leading research and innovation landscape that creates the conditions for businesses to make the journey from start-up to scale-up. This is a key part of the UKRI strategy, and a focus of the government’s Science and Technology Framework.

This declaration formalises UKRI’s commitment to improve the research and innovation environment for businesses seeking to scale up, through enhancing the support that we offer alongside private capital to help them invest, innovate and grow. Our commitments span three key areas, where we will hold ourselves to account to deliver improvements across the research and innovation system to help businesses scale up and ensure the UK continues to be a leading innovation economy.

Simplify and streamline the support we offer to businesses across the UK

We will continue to:

  • work with 10,000 high-growth businesses every year through our Innovate UK Business Growth support, which offers tailored growth and scale-up support to business leaders
  • enhance business access to world-class UKRI facilities and infrastructure, such as Harwell and Daresbury, and to Innovate UK’s Catapult network, which are already used by over 6,500 businesses each year
  • partner with local economy leaders to help clusters of innovative businesses grow across the UK, including by doubling the number of our local action plans from six to 12 by 2025

We will go further by:

  • setting a goal to reach one million innovators by the end of 2024. To do this Innovate UK is further expanding and diversifying the range of businesses it works with
  • delivering on Innovate UK’s established operational improvement programme, including halving the average time to process grant applications
  • further developing the Innovation Hub, our ‘one-stop shop’ for innovative businesses to streamline access to funding and support
  • launching a new digital guide to help businesses, along with investors and researchers, to make the most of UKRI products and services to commercialise research

Enhance business skills and capabilities for innovation and commercialisation

We will continue to:

  • invest to support researchers across our universities to start businesses, and businesses to access cutting-edge research. We will do this through programmes such as our £17 million per year Innovation to Commercialisation for University Research (ICURe) and our £27 million per year Research England Development (RED) fund
  • deliver the skilled employees and technical expertise that businesses across all sectors need to innovate and grow. Building on the 3,500 students we currently support to work with businesses, expanding our existing partnerships with the private sector and investing skills in critical technologies like artificial intelligence

We will go further by:

  • launching new £20 million proof-of-concept funding in 2024 to support researchers to spin out scientific discoveries into exciting new products and services
  • ensuring that UKRI’s core offer of training to new doctoral research students improves awareness and experience of commercialisation and entrepreneurship, building on existing opportunities that allow students to work with businesses
  • increasing the opportunities for scale-ups to deploy and sell their innovations through the public procurement process, including through the drive for greater take-up and promotion of Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) programmes

Support businesses to build connections with investors, sources of private capital, and new markets

We will continue to:

  • accelerate equity investment into businesses through initiatives such as our Investor Partnerships Future Economy Programme with over 120 investment funds
  • support over 850 businesses a year seeking to access global markets, supply chains and customers. Our new Global Explorers programme will support more businesses to become globally active, building on our existing global growth programmes

We will go further by:

  • creating a joined-up funding pathway over 2024, working with the British Business Bank and UK Export Finance, to enhance access to finance for scaling businesses
  • building on Innovate UK’s partnership with the London Stock Exchange Group to connect more high-potential scale-ups with private capital. This supports the Mansion House Compact’s ambition to unlock up to £50 billion of pension fund investment in high-growth companies
  • increasing the opportunities for scale-ups to deploy and sell their innovations through the public procurement process, including through the drive for greater take-up and promotion of Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) programmes

Page viewed: 3:45 am on 20 May 2024

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