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Government announces funding for collaborative tech innovation

It is also in the process of forming an innovation strategy document

Business secretary Vince Cable has announced £33 million funding to encourage technological innovation in the UK.

This includes the launch of a new competition, to be led by the Technology Strategy Board, to support 'enabling' technologies.

"The investment - worth up to £18 million - is designed to stimulate collaborative work in areas such as advanced materials and nanoscale technologies, with some funding for ideas yet to find a potential application in any market or business sector.

"These might include new techniques for gathering and interpreting biological data, or novel materials that can withstand aggressive environmental conditions, such as extreme heat or corrosion," Cable told the Innovate 11 conference in London yesterday.

The rest of the funding comprises up to £15 million new investment in the New year, in projects to accelerate the commercialisation of low-carbon vehicles.

In addition, Cable announced that the first Technology Information Centre (TIC), which focuses on high-value manufacturing, is "now open for business", with more than £140 million public investment over six years. Cable first announced the plans for the new TICs in March.

"The manufacturing TIC comprises a network of seven facilities...they will allow businesses and research groups to build prototypes, use large-scale clean rooms or develop virtual environments to assist product design," he said.

The government is also preparing an innovation and research strategy document, which will aim to set out how it can provide the right environment to support innovation.

Cable said: "A coherent approach [to innovation]...must provide optimal conditions for R&D conducted predominantly by the private sector - by improving regulatory frameworks and making best use of the state's purchasing power.

"We're asking a number of questions. How can the public sector become a more significant driver of innovation? How we can improve the mobility of smart people between business and the research base? What challenges - and indeed opportunities for international collaboration - arise from the rise of the BRIC [Brazil, Russia, India and China] countries and others?"

Meanwhile, Graham Spittle, chair of the governing board of the Technology Strategy Board and VP of the Software Group Europe for IBM UK, revealed that for every £1 invested in innovation, it receives "£7 on average on return - sometimes we've got £50 per pound we've deployed," he said.


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