At Innovate UK we’ve a very simple message at the moment – 'We are open for business' and its business as usual in helping high growth potential companies throughout the UK commercialise their innovative ideas.
So I wondered if you have noticed our recently advertised new “Open Competition” which we launched in June this year?
This entirely new Open Competition is part of our simplified offering to businesses working alongside our industry sector groups. The Open Competition is open to innovative ideas from any sector of the economy.
The competition is the very first in what will be a regular cycle repeated every 6 months.
Do you have a great idea?
So are you a business with a great idea for a new and novel, product, process or service? If so then the Open Competition could be for you.
You could apply to the competition to undertake some market research to establish what your customers might want and what size of market your idea might be able to capture.
If you’ve a great idea and you know there is a market for it, then the Open Competition might be helpful in proving its technical feasibility or indeed building a prototype and demonstrator to convince your investors and customers of the opportunity.
How does Innovate UK’s Open Competition work?
The Open Competition is accessible to both large and small companies and you can chose to work individually or in collaboration (with other Businesses, Research Organisations and the Public Sector).
Your project can last between 6 to 36 months in duration and range in size from total eligible project costs of £25,000 up to £1million, depending on the type of project.
What outcomes could you expect?
Well don’t take my word for how Innovate UK support can help you, here are some real businesses which we’ve previously featured in our case studies and where our support has made that important difference.
- Revolutionised cardiology training
Heart disease is the country's biggest killer, affecting millions across the UK. Medical training plays a big part in the fight against heart problems. However, traditional learning has often been by rote or through passive video viewing. With support from Innovate UK, Epicardio Ltd has revolutionised cardiology training with its 'Epicardio Simulation™: the world's first 'flight simulator for the heart'. Vassilios Hurmusiadis, CEO, said:
Innovate UK has helped Epicardio develop from a start-up into a company with marketable products, agreements with two major cardiac device manufacturers, and a turnover that's forecast to grow in the current year from £1,000 to £100,000, with more than 50% arising through exports
We're also currently ahead of the worldwide competition. Without Innovate UK, it's likely this wouldn't be the case. We estimate the market potential for our planned products to be around £370 million.
- Cheaper and more efficient genetic-based research
Oxford Genetics specialises in producing DNA for biological research. Its main technology – SnapFast (described as genetic Lego) makes genetic-based research cheaper and more efficient by providing scientists with a cloning platform and access to a library of DNA components.
Its founder Dr Ryan Cawood was convinced an assembly line approach - using interlocking components would increase the speed of genetic research and reduce its cost.
The approach is similar to car assembly where seats, wheels and other elements are added to a basic chassis to create a complete car.
A £24,000 Innovate UK award, plus £35,000 he raised himself, gave him the chance to demonstrate how the idea would work. He says that without the award Oxford Genetics would have been “dead in the water”
- Commercialising advanced materials technology
A materials business supported by Innovate UK has moved from a garage start-up to become one of the UK’s fastest-growing companies. Versarien was founded at the end of 2010 to commercialise an innovative process for making metallic foams developed at the University of Liverpool.
In the very early stages it won an Innovate UK grant to help it develop its technology. Since those early days, Versarien has worked on a number of further Innovate UK supported projects.
Neil Ricketts, chief executive of Versarien:
It has resulted in rapid growth – from 2 people working out of a garage to a £5m business working on 4 sites and with a listing on the London stock exchange.
If we had not got that first grant, there is no way we would have been able to pursue that market or create jobs. It took the risk out for our shareholders and created a huge amount of validation. It said that we had something very good
The business, based in Gloucestershire, specialises in commercialising advanced materials technologies and is now working with metal foams, graphene and extruded aluminium. It is targeting £6 billion global markets and expects to continue to grow.
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