Vince Cable

High-tech SMEs get �75m boost

High-tech small and medium sized businesses were given a £75 million boost from the UK government today.

Firms will be given better access to finance to help develop products, including large scale prototypes to try to attract investors, said ministers. Companies will also be given the chance to receive free academic support from colleges and universities for innovative projects.

Business Secretary Vince Cable said: "The UK has renowned universities and research institutes and a proud record of invention, from the creation of life-saving medicines to the development of the internet. This strategy builds on our strengths by setting out how we will work with businesses and research bases to underpin private sector-led growth.

"We recognise that by improving the incentives for companies to innovate they will continue to create life-changing products to drive future innovation and growth."

Birgitte Andersen, director of the Big Innovation Centre, which promotes innovation, said: "The UK faces a tough economic outlook, but this strategy could be the beginning of a process that turns the UK into the most innovative economy in the world.

"However, it remains unclear whether the scale and scope of the strategy is big enough to underpin a truly innovative economic policy."

Tim Bradshaw, the CBI's head of enterprise & innovation, said: "This new strategy recognises the UK's innovation ecosystem as critical to future growth, and the focus is rightly on open innovation and taking ideas through to commercialisation.

"The UK needs to tap into expertise from around the globe to create competitive advantage and businesses will welcome the strategic research links that are being developed with high-growth economies. These connections will also provide an international showcase for UK expertise, with the potential to attract foreign direct investment back here."

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