Monday, 23 March 2020 is a date that will likely be etched into the information of British historical past. The day we locked down. Since then, COVID-19 has turned the world the wrong way up – taking thousands and thousands of lives and disrupting households, societies and economies.
Borders closed. Outlets shuttered. Streets emptied.
For people, dwelling rooms grew to become places of work, gardens grew to become gyms, and kitchens grew to become school rooms. We embraced dressing from the waist up, as teleconferencing grew to become our main technique of collaborating, studying and socialising.
For companies, challenges prolonged far past the necessity to combine a distant workforce. Corporations confronted lowered entry to capital, cancelled orders and provide chain disruption.
Necessity is the mom of invention
Because the UK’s nationwide innovation company, it was crucial that we supported firms to innovate their means out of this disaster. Serving to them digitise companies, fast-track disruptive merchandise, or entry new markets.
Over a single, intensive weekend, we designed a portfolio of formidable rapid-response programmes to ship focused help to progressive companies once they wanted it most.
This enabled us to agree a £750 million COVID-19 response package deal from the federal government, which we divided between increasing our enterprise advisory companies, defending current investments by versatile working capital and extra funding.
Additionally by delivering new funding competitions, like FastStart (empowering firms to sort out pressing societal wants) and the Sustainable Innovation Fund (serving to the UK to construct again higher and greener).
Restoration, renewal and fast innovation
2020 was labelled ‘the 12 months the world stood nonetheless’ – however, for the companies we serve, that might not be farther from the reality. Because the pandemic took maintain, the UK’s urge for food for innovation was one of many few issues to outpace our urge for food for bathroom paper.
Our COVID-response programmes generated unprecedented demand. The FastStart competitors, only one element of our COVID-response, acquired over 8,600 functions – greater than we acquired throughout all competitions in 2019.
To-date, our COVID-response has delivered £400 million of recent funding to over 3,000 R&D-intensive companies in each nook of the UK. Our specialists at Innovate UK EDGE have offered professional recommendation on finance, development, and globalisation to an extra 2,700 firms. These numbers develop day-to-day.
The UK’s burgeoning urge for food for innovation was additionally seen throughout our core-programmes; Good Grants, Girls in Innovation, Industrial Technique Problem Fund, Younger Innovators and so forth. additionally noticed double, generally triple-figure development in functions.
The proof of the pudding is within the consuming
Though we’re happy with these funding figures, it’s the socioeconomic impression of those investments that basically counts. Some examples:
Lockdown noticed large development in residence deliveries. One of many trickiest points of the retail provide chain is the “final mile” – the product’s journey from warehouse to doorstep. It additionally represents a barrier for supply firms’ net-zero ambitions.
With help from our FastStart programme, Fernhay responded with an up to date electrical help, emission free eQuad now in manufacturing and gross sales with clients like UPS. Designed and constructed within the UK, Fernhay is exporting the eQuad to the EU and hopes to be on each supply community on the planet.
The UK has the lowest breastfeeding charges on the planet, resulting from lack of entry to constant skilled help. A problem that has been exacerbated by the pandemic.
With help from our Sustainable Innovation Fund, LatchAid developed an app to help breastfeeding mums utilizing interactive 3D animations, full with customisable physique settings and anatomical views contained in the child’s mouth, along with digital peer teams, reside specialists and a sentiment-based AI supporter.
LatchAid additionally acquired help from Innovate UK EDGE for the Beta launch, an IP audit and a future financing technique to gas their subsequent development part. They’re additionally planning a know-how pilot with 7 NHS trusts and is making ready to launch on Apple’s App Retailer this summer time.
Lastly, the humanities and tradition trade, which usually contributes £11 billion a 12 months to the financial system, was particularly laborious hit.
With help of our FastStart competitors, Curtain Name developed a talent-booking market utilizing a novel matching algorithm to attach inventive and technical freelancers with work alternatives.
With Innovate UK help, Curtain Name elevated headcount, secured follow-up funding and additional developed their platform, which is ready to turn into much more profitable post-pandemic.
That is simply the tip of an unlimited iceberg. Our COVID-response programmes reached hundreds of progressive firms in each area and each sector, from medicines to training and from agri-food to transportation.
I’m immensely happy with the resilience, dedication, and nimbleness of my colleagues at Innovate UK.
Collaboration is on the coronary heart of innovation and our collective efforts have enabled companies to quickly develop services which are reworking lives and boosting financial development.
Though suggestions continues to be being collected and analysed, early information means that, of the 4,340 of firms supported by our COVID-response programmes to-date:
- 78% stated Innovate UK help helped them safeguard workers
- 81% had been in a position to develop new services
- 88% secured new clients or entered new markets
- 10% penetrated abroad markets for the primary time
- 74% stated that their improvements wouldn’t have been potential (or no less than not as well timed) with out our help
Storms add color to rainbows. Darkness provides depth to stars. For all of the injury that COVID-19 prompted, it gave progressive companies a possibility to shine.
As evidenced by the explosive development in grant functions, the pandemic has triggered a surge of entrepreneurialism within the UK and highlighted the significance of business-led innovation, for each catalysing development and constructing resilience.
Submit-pandemic, ‘enterprise as common’ won’t be sufficient – the sport has modified. Nonetheless, the businesses that embrace innovation as a strategic precedence are laying the foundations of putting up with success.
As Britain builds again higher, Innovate UK will proceed to carry collectively trade, authorities and academia, to unleash business-led innovation in all areas of the UK.