In January 2018 the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) programme reached a significant milestone having awarded over £0.5 billion in Research and Development contracts since its inception.
These awards, from Public Sector bodies to companies, stimulate the development of new innovative solutions to improve services within the public sector. A study by Manchester Institute of Innovation with the Enterprise Research Centre and OMB Research Ltd, estimated that for every £1 awarded through SBRI at least £2.4 was returned to the UK Economy meaning that conservatively SBRI has delivered over £1billion to the UK.
Over 66% of the contracts are awarded to SME’s who for example have solved challenges to enable nurses to spend 10% more time with patients in direct value adding care and developed new materials for advanced protection in Helmets and clothing , as well as improving the ability for collection of rates in Belfast which identified £350,000 of uncollected rates during the Phase 2 development period and also development of new chemical sensors for earlier disease diagnosis in patients.
What is SBRI?
SBRI is a programme, which challenges industry from the demand side to develop innovative solutions for public sector needs and it provides a first customer reference that enables companies to create competitive advantage on the market.
SBRI enables public procurers to compare alternative potential solution approaches and filter out the best possible solutions that the market can deliver to address the public need.
Public procurers can drive innovation from the demand side by acting as technologically demanding customers that buy the development and testing of new solutions. This enables public bodies to modernize public services faster and to create opportunities for companies to take international leadership in new markets.
Creating a strong UK market for innovative products and services is an important step towards creating growth and jobs in quickly evolving markets.
How does SBRI work?
SBRI is an exciting approach to the public procurement of research and development services that allows the company to receive 100% as there is no state aid while also keeping all the IP. In return the public sector body gets to work together with companies to develop new solutions that are suitable for their requirements.
Competitive development in phases:
Public Bodies buy R&D from several competing suppliers in parallel to compare alternative solution approaches and identify the best value for money solutions that the market can deliver to address their needs. R&D is split into phases (solution design, prototyping & original development and validation/testing of a limited set of first products) with the number of competing R&D providers being reduced after each R&D phase
Risk-benefit sharing under market conditions
Public bodies share the benefits and risks related to the IPRs resulting from the research and development (R&D) with suppliers at market price. Suppliers retain IPR ownership rights, while procurers keep some usage and licensing rights.
Separation from the deployment of commercial volumes of end-products
SBRI can go up to the development of the limited volume of first products developed. However, SBRI does not cover large scale commercialisation.
Why is SBRI important?
Enables public sector bodies and suppliers to:
- Develop breakthrough innovative solutions for the challenges of the future e.g Clean Growth, AI & Data Economy, Ageing & Future of Mobility.
- Facilitate the access of new innovative players (e.g. startups, SMEs) to the public procurement market
- Share the risks and benefits of designing, prototyping, and testing new products and services between procurers and suppliers
- Create optimum conditions for wider commercialisation and take-up of R&D results
- Reduce market fragmentation, reducing costs for procurers and creating wider markets for companies
- Create highly qualified R&D jobs in the UK
- Act as a seal of approval for innovative companies confirming the market potential of new emerging technological developments, thereby attracting new investors
Helping spread the word
We have supported over 80 public sector bodies to use the SBRI process from all over the UK including the Devolved Administrations of Northern Ireland, Scotland and Wales resulting in embedding schemes that use SBRI such as CRACKIT, CivTech, SBRI Healthcare and Defence and Security Accelerator into Public Sector Departments which support their use of Innovative procurement as well as Innovate UK supporting regional funding schemes Scotland CANDO Innovation Challenge Fund, Welsh SBRI Innovation Fund and NI SBRI Challenge Fund.
Leveraging the UK’s success to share best practice by leading on the first European Commission Funded project SILVER and supporting the development of new programmes internationally in the rest of Europe, Asia, Australia and North America.
What next for SBRI?
Last year at the Prime Ministers request an independent review of SBRI was conducted to consider how government can increase the impact of the scheme and give more innovators their first break.
Informed by this review, and recognising the value of the programme, the UK government will refocus the SBRI to increase its impact for innovative businesses, aligning it with Grand Challenges and building capability in the public sector to drive productivity by adopting SBRI solutions.
As a first step, last month the UK Government announced a new GovTech Catalyst with a GovTech Fund of up to £20m over three years, which will use SBRI, supported by Innovate UK to support tech firms to provide the government with innovative solutions for more efficient public services.
Get in touch
If you are a public sector body in the UK and want to become involved in the procurement of innovation to develop better services and work with new suppliers then contact the SBRI team firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com to submit your interest to the new Govtech Catalyst.
Companies should continue to visit our SBRI page on GOV.UK for the new SBRI competitions launching in April from the GovTech Catalyst and from all other Public Sector bodies programmes using SBRI within the UK.
If you want a fun explanation of the benefits of using the SBRI process then watch the following video
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