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Innovate UK's 2016/17 funding reports – what do they tell us?

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Explaining it more simply

In January, we published our first funding reports, covering 2015/16. We’re now back, with the latest year of data, and a new, simplified format.

Funding reports 201617, who we funded

A look across the sectors

Last financial year was the first of Innovate UK’s new sector groups and new, simplified competition process. The reports have evolved to reflect this, setting out the sector breakdown of funding and, for the first time, tracking how many SMEs we’ve supported in more than one sector.

These 230 companies – around 11% of all SMEs who have been awarded an Innovate UK grant – are particularly interesting to us, as one of the things we like to encourage is for companies to take their new ideas, technologies, products or services, and apply them in new sectors or markets.

Innovation isn’t just about creating something new and selling it – it can be about recognising that something which already exists, or is in development, can be applied elsewhere, perhaps with only minor amendments required.

New beginnings… and more ends

Funding reports 201617, how much we funded

We’ve seen around 1,100 projects complete last year, compared to just 700 in 2015/16. However, despite this, the number of live projects at the end of the year has increased by 200, demonstrating an increase in activity in terms of new projects starting.

The reduction in future committed spend, however, from £308m to £292m suggests the higher number of awards made have been for smaller projects (the median value reflects this, down to £95k in 2016/17).

A regional perspective

Funding reports 201617, where we funded

In this year’s reports, we’ve placed a bit more emphasis on the regional breakdown as well – giving it its own report.

We know growth and productivity is not evenly distributed across the country, and we want to be transparent about where our grant funding goes.

Given the skewed distribution of businesses across the UK – with a disproportionately large number registering in London and the South East – we’ve complemented the raw value of grants awarded with our take on a per capita value; instead of looking at grants per head of the population, we’ve calculated the value of grants awarded in each region per registered business in that area.

This perspective throws up a clear front runner in terms of value of grants awarded, with the North East scooping £78 for every business registered in the area. Northern Ireland and Wales received the lowest level of funding/business according to these figures.

However, it is important to note that the Devolved Administrations also provide their own innovation funding, which complements Innovate UK funding and is not captured in these numbers.

Looking forward

For me, it’s a highlight of the year to publish these figures. As noted before, it’s not sophisticated analysis, and there’s nothing revolutionary in our approach, but to publish clearly and transparently what we’ve been doing to support innovative businesses – opening ourselves up to scrutiny and challenge – is vitally important.

The eagle eyed among you will have noted we’ve changed the name; from performance reports to funding reports. This is to reflect what the data actually shows – I noted last year that we would be adding in performance data over time, but for now they remain a report on our funding and activities.

We have started rolling out our new project completion form, which is gathering consistent data on the activities and outcomes we are supporting, and I’m now looking forward to incorporating this data into our performance reports. This will take us a good step forward, demonstrating not just who, where, and what we’re funding, but also showing the results of that funding, in terms of:

  • technological progress
  • investment
  • employment
  • business growth

We’re already working on our in-year reports, and I look forward to sharing the next set of data with you all.

The full data is readily available in raw format, in our Transparency Data.

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  1. Comment by Tom Forth posted on

    Perhaps I'm being very slow -- but I can't see a link to the data or the report from this page.

  2. Comment by Michael Kenward posted on

    Like Tom Forth, it seems, I like to have something that I can download and read at my leisure, not to mention file and index for later off-line recovery.

    I do not want to have to mess around with a blog trying to create a printable version, something that the designers of the government's websites seem to have left out.

    This is a general complaint about stuff from IUK. Think about the readers.

    • Replies to Michael Kenward>

      Comment by Dan Hodges posted on

      Thank you for the feedback – we are continuously looking for ways to better provide and present open and accessible data. The graphics in the blog were intended to give a handy overview of some of the key pieces of information in our transparency data, which is made available for all to review, rather than an exhaustive analysis. The graphics can be saved as images and filed, and this blog offers my reflections on some of the things we see emerging from the data. We also have this platform in beta and we welcome feedback from anyone who uses it too.

  3. Comment by Marcus Gibson posted on

    As ever - the manufacturing heartland of England is unfairly, even grossly, excluded from its rightful share of grant money - as I've been pointing out, without effect, since the TSB was extruded from the DTI.

    No such disparity took place under the DTI. So much for the 'Northern Powerhouse'.

    Under the DTI the old Smart and other grants were openly available, in great detail, with full SME contact details - unfortunately those key DTI compiler staff were not recruited by the TSB and instead the former KTP data ninnies were brought on board. As a result there is only skeleton information about the TSB/IUK recipients - very helpful to all.

    Lastly, IUK's technology Calls are so absurdly science- and research-based, few of them have any relevance to the UK's core manufacturers - ever. The IUK is posing as the failed sister to its immediate neighbour in Swindon, the EPSRC, which is where most of IUK's programmes belong. Look at the Darpa programmes if anyone is in any doubt. Hopefully we'll get a much sharper, business minded chief executive of IUK who will really turn things round.

  4. Comment by J Ingham posted on

    Our experiences of applying for IUK grants have been frustrating to say the least. The apparent inconsistencies in the opinions of "innovation leads" regarding competition scope in the Biomedical Catalyst, and the conspicuous lack of support from IUK in securing an investment partner in the Investor Accelerator Pilot grant (despite a successful application) have wasted significant time and energy. Unfortunately, from conversations with other companies in the biotech sector, it seems our experience is far from unique. Here's hoping for a more transparent process in future!