New findings from funding expert Catax suggest big regional differences in government innovation support across the UK, with some places getting six times as much backing as others.
“Many businesses still don’t realise how much is on the table for innovation grants and how relatively straightforward it is to get at. Applications are time consuming – taking up to three months to prepare, but can pay dividends,” says Karen Taylor, Catax’s group head of grants.
Employing a specialist to draw up a bid will usually involve an upfront fee – anything from £3,000 to £20,000 plus, as well as a commission if successful.
Since 2003 and based on business numbers, according to Catax the North East has received the most grant cash – some £6,504 per company – while the North West netted just £1,039.
These compare to a UK average of £2,563 with Northern Ireland, Wales, and the East of England among others also lagging behind.
Firms in some places are making fewer applications leading to the big variations and creating a honeypot, critical mass effect.
“When you get high densities of businesses in an area and similar industries people involved share best practice and take greater advantage,” explains Taylor.
“Levelling up becomes harder. Today’s hot areas include any technology linked to net zero, battery tech, advances in hydrogen fuel and innovations related to climate change and health.”