The UK government has created a pot of £20m in grant funding for technology and R&D businesses developing Covid-19 resilience for industries and service innovation.
The government wants to help businesses that are creating new ways of working for industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, and support people at home during the coronavirus outbreak. Grants of up to £50,000 will be available.
Suggested innovations from the government included new technology allowing retailers to respond better to sudden spikes of consumer demand and improve deliveries; companies working on new services for families to connect with, and remotely monitor, their elderly or vulnerable relatives; and businesses creating education tools allowing teachers to remotely set tasks and support vulnerable children.
“The response of researchers and businesses to the coronavirus outbreak has been remarkable. This new investment will support the development of technologies that can help industries, communities and individuals adapt to new ways of working when situations like this, and other incidents, arise,” said Science Minister Amanda Solloway.
It is part of a competition run by Innovate UK, a government body providing support to innovative businesses. All the projects will begin by June this year and will last up to six months. The deadline for the applications is 17 April.
Innovate UK says applications must demonstrate “both realistic and significant benefits for society (including communities, families and individuals) or an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.”
More support for small businesses
On Friday, Chancellor Rishi Sunak announced that the Treasury is extending the Coronavirus Business Interruption Loan Scheme (CBILS) to all viable small businesses affected by Covid-19, and not just those unable to secure regular commercial financing.
The government is also stopping lenders from requesting personal guarantees for loans under £250,000 and making operational changes to speed up lending approvals.
There have been more than 130,000 enquiries from businesses interruption loans, according to latest figures from UK Finance, with 983 businesses getting finance approved.