Expert regional innovation hubs given £75 million boost to local research, businesses and economies across UK

  • Eight dynamic innovation Launchpads in every corner of the country granted share of £75 million to turbocharge ideas and regional economies through targeted support for SMEs
  • will span key sectors including renewable energy, agri-tech, and digital healthcare solutions, supporting research, innovative resources for SMEs and joint ventures
  • builds on Liverpool and Teesside pilots protecting our coasts from impacts of climate change and reducing landfill

Regional clusters of world-class innovation across the UK are being backed by a share of £75 million that will boost local economies and pioneer game-changing solutions from healthcare to net zero, UK Science Minister George Freeman has announced today (Monday 23 October).

Following pilots in Liverpool and Teesside, launched earlier this year, a further 8 Launchpads, facilitated by Innovate UK, will be rolled out across every nation of the UK. These initiatives will build on existing clusters of high-tech innovation in each region, such as renewable energy in Southwest Wales, Agri-tech in East Anglia and digital health in Yorkshire.  

Launchpads is a programme that supports emerging clusters of small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) by providing each Launchpad up to £7.5 million from Innovate UK to fund innovation projects led by local businesses.

The £7.5 million bespoke funding from each Launchpad will allow SMEs in each region to bid for support that is tailored to the unique needs of each business cluster, helping them drive innovation, expand operations, and boost their local economies.

Launchpads concentrate their support in specific areas of the UK with strong innovation capabilities. This approach encourages close collaboration with local leaders and provides tailored support, including funding for research and development, access to specialised innovation resources, and opportunities for SMEs to connect, share ideas, and participate in joint ventures.

Teesside University has so far taken the lead in net-zero research projects, investing in initiatives like waste diversion technologies to reduce landfill waste and protect the environment. Meanwhile, funding for Liverpool City Region is backing 23 green projects including an eco-friendly concrete block to help protect coastal communities against climate change-related flooding, which has supported dozens of jobs.

George Freeman MP, Minister of State at the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, who has made government support for regional R&D and innovation clusters a key priority, said:

The UK science, research and innovation economy is not just the ‘golden triangle’ of Cambridge-Oxford-London. It is all around the UK.

From Glasgow satellite manufacturing to Manchester materials, Teeside hydrogen and Liverpool life sciences, alongside as many as 25 other globally recognised hubs around the UK – we have world class R&D – and supporting these regional clusters of world class innovation is central to our plan to make the UK an ‘Innovation Nation’.

That is why we have launched our flagship Launchpads programme – and this £75 million investment will support high-growth companies to build the industries of tomorrow – in sectors from renewable energy through to digital health. These Launchpads will play a pivotal role in growing our local economies, creating jobs and levelling up the UK.

The funding follows a competitive bidding process involving more than 40 proposals from across the UK put forward by local leaders and carefully evaluated by a panel of Innovate UK directors, sector experts and academics.

The project aims to establish world-leading, globally interconnected innovation clusters, catalysing increased employment, economic growth, and productivity within these regions. 

The 8 clusters, following investment in Liverpool City Region and Teesside, to receive funding are: 

  • Net Zero Industry Launchpad – Located in South West Wales, this Launchpad is dedicated to the pursuit of sustainable solutions in net-zero industrial emissions
  • Digital Technologies Launchpad – Positioned in North East England, this Launchpad will be at the forefront of digital technologies applied into fast growth and emerging markets
  • Health Technologies Launchpad – Based in West Yorkshire, this Launchpad is dedicated to pioneering breakthroughs in technologies that will improve healthcare outcomes
  • Agri-tech and Food Tech Launchpad – Nestled in Eastern England, this Launchpad will revolutionise agri-tech and food technology, driving innovation in food production and sustainability
  • Marine and Maritime Launchpad – Located in the Great South West, this Launchpad will support initiatives in marine and maritime industries, fostering growth and sustainability in this sector
  • Bio-based Manufacturing Launchpad – Positioned in Scotland, this Launchpad will drive innovations in bio-based manufacturing, promoting sustainable production methods 
  • Immersive and Creative Industries Launchpad – Centred on Coventry and Warwickshire in the West Midlands, this Launchpad will champion technologies for the creative industries and immersive experiences, paving the way for groundbreaking innovations.  Innovate UK will deliver this Launchpad in collaboration with the Arts and Humanities Research Council (AHRC)
  • Life and Health Sciences Launchpad – Situated in Northern Ireland, this Launchpad is dedicated to the advancement of healthcare solutions and medical breakthroughs

Indro Mukerjee, Chief Executive of Innovate UK said:  

Innovate UK is building strong regional partnerships across the UK to support local innovation and commercialisation.

Our new Launchpads will help to attract further private sector R&D investment into innovation clusters, growing local economies and delivering societal and economic benefits to local communities.

Welsh Secretary of State David TC Davies said:

It is fantastic that £7.5 million of UK government funding is coming to Southwest Wales to support the growing net zero industry in this part of the country.  There are some really innovative businesses who are already collaborating with each other and researchers to develop industries of the future, and this Launchpad funding will deliver what they need to take their work to the next level.

The UK government is committed to creating jobs and growing prosperity in Wales, and this is exactly the type of intervention that will help to foster a modern 21st century economy  in the Neath Port Talbot area.

UK Government Minister for Scotland, John Lamont said: 

Scotland is a world leader in scientific innovation and research and development across a range of hi-tech sectors.

This funding from the UK government for a Scottish bio-based manufacturing launchpad, connected to the other clusters across the UK, will help boost economic growth and ensure our businesses are at the forefront of sustainable production techniques.

Minister of State for Northern Ireland Steve Baker said:

The creation of a Precision Medicine Launchpad in Northern Ireland opens up fantastic opportunities for innovative small and medium healthcare and medical firms to flourish.

This new network of UK government innovation clusters provides the ideal environment for local firms to exchange ideas with experts across the UK, to progress and thrive, and will provide a wealth of economic opportunities.

Notes for editors 

Companies and consortia of innovators located within the regions and actively engaged in the designated sector will be able to bid for a share of the funding from the 23 or 30 October 2023, depending on the location. You can find out more about applying for innovation funding.

The pilot projects 

Tees Valley pilot 

Tees Valley was selected as the location for Net Zero Launchpad with the initial focus of offshore wind, hydrogen production, distribution and usage, and carbon capture, usage and storage (CCUS) within the net zero theme. 

Liverpool City Region pilot 

This pilot focused on the manufacturing sector, with digital technologies and net zero outcomes, building on the local economic strengths, R&D assets, and strategic priorities.

Link: Expert regional innovation hubs given £75 million boost to local research, businesses and economies across UK
Source: Assent Information Services