The UK government has announced a substantial £75 million investment to support regional innovation clusters, including agritech advancements.
This initiative, unveiled by UK Science Minister George Freeman, aims to bolster local economies and pioneer transformative solutions in various sectors, including agritech.
Following successful pilot projects in Liverpool and Teesside, eight additional Launchpads, facilitated by Innovate UK, will be established across the UK. These Launchpads will capitalise on existing high-tech innovation clusters in their respective regions.
Notably, East Anglia will host the Agritech and Foodtech Launchpad, focusing on driving innovation in food production and sustainability.
Each Launchpad will receive up to £7.5 million from Innovate UK, providing tailored support to small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) in their regions. This funding will empower SMEs to spearhead innovation projects, expand their operations, and contribute positively to their local economies.
The Launchpads programme is designed to bolster areas in the UK with robust innovation capabilities. By offering tailored support, including research and development funding, access to specialised innovation resources, and opportunities for collaboration, the programme aims to nurture a thriving ecosystem of innovative SMEs.
George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, highlighted the UK's diverse and widespread innovation hubs, from Glasgow's satellite manufacturing to Manchester's materials and Teesside's hydrogen initiatives. He emphasised the importance of supporting these regional innovation clusters in transforming the UK into an 'Innovation Nation'.
The investment decision followed a rigorous evaluation process of over 40 proposals from across the UK. The overarching goal is to establish interconnected innovation clusters that will catalyse economic growth, job creation, and enhanced productivity in their regions.
Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive of Innovate UK, expressed enthusiasm for building robust regional partnerships across the UK to bolster local innovation and commercialisation. He believes the new Launchpads will attract further private sector R&D investment, benefiting local communities both economically and socially.