South: Innovative companies urged to apply for tech funds

Innovative businesses in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire are being encouraged to apply for grants to fast-track technological solutions to disruption caused by the coronavirus pandemic.

But they will need to act fast, as the deadline for applications to the funding competition, run by Innovate UK, is this Friday, April 17.

Stuart Rogers, a corporate tax partner at regional accountants and business advisors PKF Francis Clark, believes the scheme could benefit companies seeking funding to turn their ideas into reality.

Rogers said: “Against the distressing backdrop of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Government this month announced a £20 million fund for the development of technology to help boost the UK’s resilience to the long-term impact of the coronavirus outbreak and similar disruption in the future. Grants of up to £50,000 are available for innovative and ambitious projects.

“This is an opportunity to make a positive difference during and after the national emergency, harnessing innovation to deliver realistic and significant benefits for society.

“These include communities, families and individuals or an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.”

He added: “Crucially, all the projects must begin by June and last up to six months, with products and services expected to be available to the public towards the end of this year. Projects must be deliveredduring the working restrictions of the Covid-19 pandemic.

“There will be businesses in Dorset, Hampshire and Wiltshire which have the capability and inventiveness to respond to this innovation call to arms by the Government.”

Innovations could include:

  • New technology allowing retailers to respond better to sudden spikes of consumer demand and improve deliveries across the UK.
  • New services for families to connect with and remotely monitor their elderly or vulnerable relatives, giving people peace of mind that their loved ones are receiving the services they require such as food deliveries, doctor’s appointments and paying bills.
  • Creating education tools which seamlessly integrate the classroom with the kitchen table, allowing teachers to remotely set dynamic tasks, support vulnerable children and make certain no child is left behind.

Eligible businesses can claim 100% of project costs, up to a maximum of £50,000.

Rogers specialises in advising fast-growing and complex businesses, heading up PKF Francis Clark’s innovation and technology tax services group, which focuses on tax issues such as R&D tax relief.

He said: “These grants will be paid in advance of the project start date, helping with R&D costs. There are a wide range of sectors that could participate, where many of our clients are active. These include education and culture, entertainment, food manufacture and processing, healthcare, hospitality, retail, social care, sport and recreation and transport.”