Technology Strategy Board Launches £3m Funding Drive

Michael Fallon Wants To Encourage Creativity And Innovation In The Maritime And Marine Sector

08.01.2014

Steven Beahan, Partner | +44 (0)114 294 7868

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has launched a new research and development (R&D) competition for companies operating in the maritime and marine sector.

Worth £3 million, the scheme is aimed at encouraging small businesses to develop new products, solutions and procedures that can help improve the efficiency of naval, leisure and merchant marine vessels.

The government is hoping to cut the UK's carbon emissions by at least 80 per cent by 2050 (using baseline levels from 1990) and the maritime and marine sector is one area that has been targeted for improvements.

Business and energy minister Michael Fallon launched the new collaborative R&D drive and insisted the industry is of "vital importance" to the UK economy. He suggested the sector is worth in the region of £19 billion and employs 367,000 people.

"We want to encourage the very best in creativity and innovation within the industry in order to ensure its long term success and global competitiveness," he commented.

TSB aims to make it easier for small and medium enterprises (SMEs) to gain access to finance, allowing them to turn their ideas into fully fledged products and services.

Many small firms found it difficult to put their thoughts into action during the financial crisis, but this could change now the economy is starting to recover.

The Vessel Efficiency II: better systems at sea competition is the second project to specifically target innovators in the maritime and marine sector.

TSB chief executive Iain Gray said there is a "huge appetite" among SMEs to produce eco-friendly solutions that can contribute towards the UK's drive to reduce carbon emissions.

He hailed the first round of R&D investment - which took place in 2013 - as a success, with the organisation receiving total funding requests that were more than three times higher than the £7 million that had been made available.

"The number and quality of proposals submitted last year was excellent and we look forward to receiving a positive response to this new competition," Mr Gray remarked.

Expert Opinion
Small businesses are regularly identified as key a driver of growth in the economy in general, but it must also be remembered that the same companies and entrepreneurs have often been behind some of the most innovative products and designs across all sectors in the past.

"This is welcome step designed to tap into the potential that SMEs offer in this regard and must be welcomed. It will also particularly provide useful for small businesses which may still have concerns over access to finance which are inhibiting their efforts to research and develop new solutions.

"We would urge eligible companies to consider how they could get involved in this initiative, but would also encourage them to ensure they have the right support network in place as matters to develop – particularly in terms of advice on the legal issues related to product development and generally growing a business."
Steven Beahan, Partner