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Technology Strategy Board to invest £250m in innovation competitions

Cloud, mobile commerce and digital start-ups are all set to benefit

The Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has published details of how it plans to invest £250m of new government funding in around 60 competitions, which it claims will lead to innovative projects and business growth.

The TSB is a non-departmental public body (NDPB), established by the government in 2007 to stimulate technology-enabled innovation in the areas that offer the greatest scope for boosting UK growth and productivity.

This is largely achieved through competitions, whereby the TSB identifies a problem that needs to be solved and invites private sector technology companies to design solutions. Those that come up with the most compelling proposals receive funding to realise their ideas.

The TSB's overall budget for the year 2012-13 is approximately £390m - £250m of which will be used to fund these competitions.

The funding will be divided between 12 thematic areas for investment, including five that address global challenges: energy (£26m), healthcare (£65.7m), built environment including future cities (£37.5m), food (£10m) and transport (£23.5m).

These sit alongside investment in competencies such as space, high value manufacturing and technology areas including biosciences, electronics and ICT.

The amount invested in pure ICT is relatively small - only £500,000 in a collaborative R&D competition and fast-track projects to stimulate innovation in the cloud. However, a further £4m will be spent on R&D projects to mitigate risk concerns around the use of cloud computing.

Up to £3m will also be spent on a competition designed to remove the barriers to mobile commerce - in particular tackling concerns around security and the cost of scaling to widespread use.

Another area of focus is "internet-driven convergence". The TSB plans to invest up to £10m per year in a Connected Digital Economy catapult centre, which will enable companies to adopt new ways of doing business.

"Sustained co-working will be needed to create industry-wide conversation across sectors and between service creators, suppliers and users," the report stated. "The Connected Digital Catapult centre, to be established in 2013, will be a major step in enabling this."

Up to £3.5m will be invested to help small businesses develop and demonstrate digital prototypes as part of the TSB's IC tomorrow programme, and a further £1.5m will be invested in Launchpad competitions to stimulate digital innovation in clusters such as Tech City.

Meanwhile, £1m will be invested in removing the barriers to the use of public and private open data via the LinkedGov project and development of the Open Data Institute.

"We are determined to maintain and strengthen our world leading position in science, innovation and research - that's why the government is investing £250m through the Technology Strategy Board to develop new and existing products and services," said universities and science minister David Willetts.

"The Technology Strategy Board are experts in supporting innovative businesses, and hopefully by setting out the opportunities available in the coming months, more firms will decide to compete for investment."

The full report can be found here (pdf).

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