Steve Rotheram, Metro Mayor of the Liverpool City Region, launched the £3m LCR Future Innovation Fund (Pilot) to support businesses in the region to adapt and innovate in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Delivered through Growth Platform, the Pilot provides grants to support SMEs to innovate, adapt and diversify in response to the different business landscape we find ourselves in.
Eligible projects must demonstrate alignment to the following priority areas for the LCR:
- Delivering a sustainable industrial future: businesses seeking to take advantage of new opportunities in materials, manufacturing and engineering.
- Open health innovation: business initiatives to enhance health & wellbeing, during and following the pandemic.
- Global cultural capital: activities to support the resilience of LCR’s cultural vibrancy during and following the pandemic.
- Zero carbon economy: businesses pioneering sustainable approaches to living, travel and doing business in a post-pandemic world, for example linking to the circular economy, mitigating single-use plastic and non-reusable PPE.
- Tech for good: businesses that use technology and data to drive growth and improve society, including but not limited to “smart city” applications, high performance computing, data science and AI.
- Digitalisation: initiatives in any other sector that will yield a clear improvement in business productivity, adaptability and/or diversification.
The Pilot will support “close to market” product/service and process innovation projects that can demonstrate a commercial market impact within six months.
This Pilot scheme adopts a “continuous improvement” approach that will enable learning from each funding round to be applied to subsequent rounds based on evidence and feedback received. This Pilot approach also strengthens the City Region’s pitch to central Government for more innovation funding for the City Region through a scaled-up innovation fund.
The first round of the Pilot provided £1m of funding to 14 projects with grants of between £25,000 and £100,000. The first round was extremely competitive and significantly oversubscribed with over 230 businesses applying for funding. As a result, the maximum grant available in the second round will be £75,000 with the aim of supporting a greater number of the City Region’s most innovative businesses.
The second round will open for applications on Monday 28 September 2020 and close at 23:39 on 19 October 2020. Full details are available at www.growthplatform.org/future-innovation-fund
The Pilot is part of a wider response by the Metro Mayor and the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority, to re-purpose and re-shape the funding available for businesses. These funds are being made available via the Strategic Investment Fund to meet the needs of the city region’s business community.