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£150 million loan scheme launched for innovative SMBs

Businesses in cutting-edge industries can apply for government-backed loans of up to £2 million

The government has launched a series of loan competitions offering up to £150 million to small and medium-sized businesses to support their research and development projects.

The loans will support innovations deemed to have the strongest potential to support future economic growth and tackle social challenges, the government revealed on Thursday.

They will be provided across a number of fields, including next-generation digital technologies as well as the “7 Technology Families” of the Innovation Strategy – a strategy that focuses on how the government can best support businesses with access to research, development, and innovation.

These seven families cover advanced materials and manufacturing, engineering biology, electronics, sensors, photonics and quantum, and robotics and smart machines.

The funding will be delivered through Innovate UK and be available to SMEs over the next three years. Businesses can apply for the funding through the Innovation Funding Service.

“Supporting our talented innovators, not only to develop their ideas but to see these ideas through to commercialisation, will be essential to growing an economy built on the technologies of the future, and securing the UK’s status as a true Innovation Nation,” said science minister George Freeman.

Projects already supported via the loan programme include portable freezers to safely deliver vaccines to care homes and surgeries, a platform designed to protect hospitals and healthcare centres from cyber attacks, and patented hospital screens preventing the transmission of pathogens and viruses.

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Businesses with late-stage projects can apply for a loan between £100,000 and £2 million, with flexible repayment terms to help secure their future growth and commercial success.

The new programme will begin with monthly competition rounds, where applicants will need to demonstrate evidence of a high quality proposed innovation project, suitability to take on a loan, and inability to access finance for their project from commercial finance providers.

To date, the government’s loans programmes have committed £163 million to around 200 businesses across the UK. Over a third of businesses in the portfolio have accessed additional private investment, leveraging new capital of over £110 million, with an average raise of £1,8 million, according to the government.

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