Innovation boost of £1.1m on offer to SMEs

IN: Business news

Small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) are to benefit from a £1.1 million shot in the arm to help with the development of new ideas to target fresh markets.

The Department for Business, Innovation and Skill (BIS) has unveiled a second wave of Innovation Vouchers that are being made available through the Technology Strategy Board.

Sectors due to take advantage of the vouchers include agri-food, built environment and space, with the additional funding for open data use and innovation in the areas of energy, water and waste.

In September, BIS committed £1 million per year for the next three years in Innovation Vouchers, with the Technology Strategy Board matching the funding so that there is a total of £2 million available each year.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said: "This new wave of Innovation Vouchers will give SMEs a great opportunity to bid for funding that can make a real difference to the growth of their business ideas."

Businesses will be able to use their vouchers to work with knowledge suppliers including catapult centres, technical consultancies, research and technology organisations and universities or further education colleges, among others.

Chief executive of the Technology Strategy Board Iain Gray said: "Innovation Vouchers offer a low risk way for small businesses to explore new ideas with a wider network of specialists - ideas that can make a real difference and help them grow."

Another initiative launched by the government to support SMEs is the Funding for Lending Scheme (FLS), which Aldermore is participating in.

It works by enabling banks and building societies to borrow from the Bank of England for up to four years to improve lending to small firms.

Since its launch in 2009, Aldermore has lent more than £1 billion to SMEs and it is believed this will continue to grow throughout 2013, demonstrating the bank's commitment to supporting UK businesses.

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