Government to run ‘Dragons Den’ challenge competitions for small firms to win R&D support
The Welsh Government has placed £2 million into a pot to encourage small and medium enterprises to come up with technology solutions to deal with challenges facing the public sector.
Under the Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) Innovation Accelerator, SMEs will be able to bid for research and development funding on the solutions for specific challenges.
The project will run for up to two years, with up to £100,000 initially available for individual projects. Companies will then have the opportunity to win further contracts worth up to £1 million to commercialise their ideas.
Call for challenges
The Welsh Government has issued a call to public sector organisations to identify the challenges and provide ideas for competitions under the SBRI, which it will run in collaboration with InnovateUK. Any SMEs coming forward with solutions will then be subject to a ‘Dragons Den’ style process to decide which should get the support.
A briefing session is planned for today in Cardiff to set off the programme.
Economy Minister Edwina Hart (pictured) said: "The Small Business Research Initiative has shown how the public and private sector can work together to tackle societal challenges in innovative ways and deliver benefit to both public sector bodies and industry
“I am particularly pleased it is encouraging SMEs to become involved with the public sector procurement process which opens up a range of opportunities for companies to access R&D funding to develop tailor made solutions and to commercialise those solutions.”
The move follows the earlier SBRI Catalyst Programme, which helped Welsh businesses to wind more than £1.5 million in R&D contracts through 10 competitions over two years.
Picture from National Assembly for Wales