Monday, July 6, 2020

Boost for small business through new government investment in tech project trials

Innovative new projects set to receive government investment to help businesses make better use of technology and modern management practices.

Technology projects and pilots across the country – including digital dairy farming, artificial intelligence (AI) chatbots and cloud computing technology – are among those to benefit from a new fund to boost the productivity of UK small businesses, Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst confirmed today (29 January 2019).

A total of 15 projects from all parts of the UK have won a share of £2 million from the first round of funding from the Business Basics Fund. Among the winning bidders are cutting-edge collaborations between businesses and groups including the Chartered Institute of Personnel & Development (CIPD), Enterprise Nation, Universities, Cavendish Enterprise, government-backed Growth Hubs and local authorities.

Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said:   “Small businesses are the backbone of our economy and as part of our modern Industrial Strategy, we are supporting them with new investments to boost their productivity and ensure they can continue to thrive in the future.

“Today’s investment will support innovative projects that test how government and private sector companies can help small businesses adopt a range of technologies and management practices that save them time and make them more efficient.”

A second funding competition has launched with £2 million available to businesses, academia and local authorities for new projects focused on testing ways of rolling out existing productivity-boosting technology and management practices to businesses.

The Fund, which forms part of the government’s plan to boost UK national productivity through its modern Industrial Strategy, is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK and Nesta.

Research from the CBI suggests that by encouraging more businesses to take advantage of existing technologies, management practices and business support– such as cloud computing, mobile technology and e-purchasing – the UK economy could receive a £100 billion boost and see a 5% reduction in income inequality.

Dr Ian Campbell, Executive Chair of Innovate UK, says: “Trying something new is a big step for any business, but true innovation enables firms grow. To solve the UK’s productivity puzzle, we need more firms to adopt new, but proven, technologies and novel ways of doing things so they can get ahead of the competition.

“That’s exactly what the Industrial Strategy, through the business basics scheme, is helping these projects to achieve.”

Geoff Mulgan, Chief Executive of innovation foundation Nesta, adds: “The Business Basics Fund signals a welcome commitment by government to applying experimental methods to boosting economic productivity.

“It is vitally important that we gather evidence about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the billions of pounds that are spent by governments around the world, currently with not enough hard evidence about what works.”

The government has also published the Business Support Evaluation Framework. The new Framework will set out the quality standards that are expected for evaluations of BEIS-funded business support  programmes  and will  enable the effectiveness of different policies and programmes to be compared.

The framework is designed to assist policy makers, evaluators and delivery bodies in generating robust evidence of what works, so BEIS can make better informed decisions of current and future policies.

Government is committed to investing, through its modern Industrial Strategy, in science and research to keep the UK at the forefront of new technologies and the benefits they bring.

The Industrial Strategy is also helping us nurture and upskill people to do the jobs of the future, through increased investment in technical education and a national retraining scheme.

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