Businesses and children can be inspired at Adastral Park, Suffolk
- Credit: Alan Cowie
Innovators in the East of England meet at BT’s global research hub to explore growth opportunities
Businesses wanting to fund `game-changing’ research and development projects can now access low interest Innovation Loans of between £100,000 and £1m, it has been reveled.
The support, from Innovate UK, is part of a £50m Government-funded package, and was revealed at a special event at BT’s Adastral Park, Suffolk.
More than 150 scientists, technologists, innovators and entrepreneurs gathered at BT’s global research base, Adastral Park to learn more about the vast array of support mechanisms available to drive business innovation.
With support from BT, the event was organised by Innovate UK and the Knowledge Transfer Network, who together fund and support innovation in order to grow the UK economy.
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The event had four sector themes: ICT, Agri-tech, Manufacturing and Health.
Nigel Walker, Head of Innovation Lending at Innovate UK unveiled all new Innovation Loans, which provide low-interest loans between £100,000 - £1m to companies to fund their ‘game changing’ later-stage R&D projects, which can evidence a clear path to commercialisation and business growth. As the interest rate (3.7%) is low compared to lenders on the open market, the Government still deems this to be state aid.
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Howard Partridge, regional manager for Innovate UK said: “Today is all about how Innovate UK can help fuel business innovation, not just through grants, but how we can help connect people to the solutions they need to solve their innovation problems. We also want to help people understand what’s on the horizon - a world where you can farm food without stepping into a field or getting in a tractor, to diagnosing and treating a patient in a different country. Innovation is a contact sport. When people get together and say ‘I’ve got a problem’ and someone else says ‘I’ve got a solution’ then great things can happen.”
Delegates then heard from Professor Tim Whitley, BT’s Managing Director for Research and Innovation. He talked about BT’s ‘purposeful innovation’ approach, combining science and engineering with a specific problem solving purpose. He also highlighted some of BT’s achievements; including ranking 3rd in the UK for spend on research and development and how their patent portfolio has reached nearly 5,000. He said BT was outward looking with over 50,000 non-BT visitors coming through the gates each year and thousands of school children being given the chance to visit, many of whom are inspired to take up STEM careers.