Despite cuts in other areas, SMEs in the UK's south east have been offered a new batch of Innovation Vouchers to help them to develop, research and innovate.
Available through the South East Health Technology Alliance (SEHTA), up to 55 vouchers worth £4,000 and £8,000 are funded by the South East England Development Agency (SEEDA) as part of a wider initiative to support high growth companies in the South East region.
The vouchers are designed to encourage and make it easier for businesses to buy in support in the form of access to the facilities and expertise of UK Universities and Public Research Establishments to support innovation and business improvement.
SEHTA said that applications are invited from any high growth-potential SME, social enterprise or not-for-profit organisation from any sector, based in the South East of England. It added that priority will be given to organisations in: Advanced Engineering and Marine; Aerospace & Defence; Environment & Energy; Financial and Professional services.
“These vouchers can act as a very important catalyst for businesses demonstrating innovation and high growth potential in their specific sector," said Dr David Parry, CEO of SEHTA. “If successful, with their application, they can easily get access to expertise and technical capabilities that would normally be beyond their reach, which also means they can develop and deliver products and services to market faster.”
He added that eligible businesses will have had little or no significant prior interaction with the selected provider; and will have the willingness and potential to collaborate on developing innovative products, services or processes. Each business can use the expertise to get help with projects where they themselves do not have the technology, facilities or expertise to complete.
The two vouchers available are a fully-funded £4,000 voucher, and an £8,000 voucher which the company is required to match with £4000 in cash to create a project of £12,000. Both types exclude VAT. Which must be paid by the recipient business.
The Innovation Voucher scheme opened on 1st February and applications close on 9th March 2011, with successful applicants being notified by 31st March 2011. SEHTA added that only one application per company can be accepted, and companies cannot apply if they have already received an Innovation Voucher in the past.