£100m to support innovative companies

Posted on Monday, May 11th, 2009 in News| Share this article

sbri_logo_newBritish companies are to be supported to develop new products and services in diverse areas such as health, defence, transport and construction through a novel £100 million government scheme.

Through the scheme, called SBRI – the Small Business Research Initiative – public sector organisations will invite British companies to submit ideas and develop new technologies – which the public sector organisation could then buy to help improve public services.

Explaining the aim of SBRI, its head, Mark Glover, said: “Its all about solving problems using clever new thinking. There are lots of novel and exciting ideas out there and SBRI enables the public sector to seek out these innovative ideas and then support turning them into commercial, viable products and services.”

“Everyone benefits” Mark Glover added, “The business develops a highly commercial and valuable new product, the public sector organisation finds a product that helps it solve a problem and meets its needs. And, of course, we all benefit from improved services.”

A trial of the scheme was run by the Department of Health in 2008. Companies were invited to develop technologies and systems to improve hand hygiene, in order to reduce the number of infections – such as MRSA – contracted in hospitals and doctors’ surgeries.

The most promising ideas will be developed into prototypes, which may then result in the product or service being bought for use by hospitals and surgeries.

The Department of Health plans to fund new SBRI competitions in other areas where new technology may help improve public services, while the East of England Strategic Health Authority is launching three new SBRI competitions this month, focussing on technologies to help manage patients with long term conditions, technologies that enable better patient monitoring and technologies to encourage children to take more exercise.

Meanwhile, the Ministry of Defence is using SBRI to find ways to lighten the load for our soldiers operating in war zones such as Afghanistan. They are inviting companies to come up with novel lightweight technologies and materials that reduce the weight carried by our infantry soldiers, and their weapons and ammunition. The MOD is also looking for ideas for highly mobile robotic vehicles that can support our soldiers in the field and carry some of their equipment.

SBRI has been promoted by the Technology Strategy Board, the organisation that has been established by the government to support the development of new technology for the benefit of the British economy.

The Department of Transport, Department of Communities and Local Government and Home Office are running and developing further competitions through the SBRI scheme. Twenty funding competitions will be launched over the coming year, with contacts worth a total of £40 million available. This will be expanded to fifty competitions, worth over £100 million, by 2011.

For further details see the SBRI website. Companies interested in working with the Polymer Centre to deliver such projects should contact Joe Gaunt, Business Development Consultant.

SBRI website