Universities set to benefit from £50 million boost to TSB

The government’s innovation agency the Technology Strategy Board will see a £50 million boost to its budget this year, the government has announced.

May 15, 2013

The TSB, which aims to support innovative businesses and drive growth across the UK, will receive a record £440 million in the 2013-14 financial year, the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills announced on 14 May.

Around 60 per cent of the TSB’s funding each year goes to small- and medium-sized businesses, and last year around a quarter of all funding was channelled to universities through academic-business collaborations.

The biggest scheme to profit from the increase in funding  - and the board’s largest outlay overall – will be the its network of “Catapults”, seven physical centres dedicated to different technologies and designed to help companies to access equipment and bring research to the market.

These will receive £121 million in 2013-14, up from £67 million in 2012-13. The board says it planning to ensure all catapults are operational in 2013-14, as well as build their capabilities, facilities and international profile.

Technology areas that will benefit from the £440 million investment include renewable energy, future cities, advanced materials, satellites, digital technologies and health.

The TSB’s Delivery Plan Financial Year 2013-14 shows health taking the largest share of funding with up to £68 million, followed by high value manufacturing which will see up to £63 million in spending.

It adds that the board’s innovation vouchers scheme, introduced in September 2012 to help small- and medium-sized businesses access knowledge from external providers such as universities, will be expanded. A spokesman confirmed that the scheme would receive £3.4 million.

Meanwhile funding for Knowledge Transfer Partnerships – a scheme that has seen cuts in recent years and places recent graduates on companies or third-sector projects – will remain static at £16.8 million.

However the TSB says it hopes to find at least one additional funder for the scheme, as part of continuing efforts to increase sponsorship from other sources and enable more projects to be funded.

Universities and science minister David Willetts said the TSB, which was formed in 2007, was “making a real difference in driving growth and keeping the UK at the forefront of the global race for innovation”.

“The £440 million budget means that there will be more funding available than ever before for businesses across the country to bid for and help turn their ideas into reality – bridging the so called ‘valley of death’,” he added. 

Chief executive of the TSB, Iain Gray, said the plan sets out how the agency will enable businesses “to overcome challenges such as access to finance, knowledge, skills and equipment”.

He added that it would open up opportunities for UK innovation to access wider, global markets such as India, China and Brazil through its overseas “missions”, as well as involvement in EU programmes and bilateral agreements with other countries.

elizabeth.gibney@tsleducation.com

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