Innovation as a theme
During the early stages of the Coronavirus pandemic, the CBI commissioned a survey of their members to understand how businesses had reacted to the seismic disruption caused – the results included the following findings:
- 28% of businesses were described as Hibernators, this group of businesses mothballed their operations despite their clear appetite to innovate. Barriers remained at the time preventing these business from adapting their offer.
- 21% were Pivoters - They changed their services or channel with a clear appetite to innovate their offer.
Therefore, almost 50% of affected businesses within this survey had an appetite to innovate - This percentage of businesses would equate to between 3,000 and 4,000 businesses across Huntingdonshire.
This survey flushed out clear themes albeit in an extreme situation. Substantial numbers of businesses are interested in innovation but sometimes there are barriers which may include the ability to fund projects, or resource them with the appropriate capability. Therefore, it is imperative that Invest Huntingdonshire champion the theme of innovation, working with stakeholders such as Innovate UK to help remove any barriers and to serve the districts businesses with complimentary funds and programmes, matching the ambition and appetite of local companies to innovate and progress.
View full pages on innovation as a theme via Huntingdonshire's Economic Strategy.
Innovate UK provides funding to support and stimulate innovation in the UK economy, and they do this by encouraging local businesses to work with other commercial and research organisations. The key requirement of theirs is any projects they look to fund has to be business-led, but any other types of organisation can apply in partnership with a business partner.
In the 2020/21 period, there were around 70 participants (based in Huntingdonshire and the wider area) for a variety of funded projects which ranged from business-led innovation funds in response to global disruption, to Digital Health Technology funds. In principle, there were a selection of different funds designed for different sectors. Those which received a fund, were in the following sectors:
- Transport Manufacturing
- Public Administration, Education, Health Social Services
- Miscellaneous Manufacturing
- Industrial, Electrical & Electronic Machinery
- Computer Software
- Chemicals, Petroleum, Rubber & Plastic
- Business Services
- Biotechnology and Life Sciences
Key detail to takeaway from this data is that, from the local 70 participants, 23 of them received more than just a single fund. Some of these businesses were awarded with 8 or 9 funded projects from Innovate UK with one business even being given access to 10 projects - again the amounts differ depending on what the fund was for, one business who successfully applied for two grants received just over £5,000 in total to support them in improving efficiency and reducing waste in the beef supply chain. Over the last few years, one business was who has made four applications, has been offered over £2.6 million by Innovate UK, one of funds was to support the applicant in carrying out large scale deployment of field tested products, by demonstrating the use of solar photovoltaic arrays in combination with electric vehicle charge point to provide low carbon power to charge vehicles.
With there being an encouragement to fund innovation in the district, more and more schemes have become available through innovate UK and more information on the work they deliver to businesses can be found here: https://www.gov.uk/government/organisations/innovate-uk