The Solent Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) has launched a £3m fund to support science and innovation projects in the Solent.
The announcement comes ahead of the government's Autumn Statement, which is widely anticipated to prioritise continued investment in productivity through the development of science and research in the UK.
Solent is set to lead this UK charge for further innovation and is already home to nationally and internationally renowned universities and research centres, with planned investments valued at over £100m.
The investments will benefit the areas of marine and maritime, photonics, digital, computer science and autonomous systems; forensics and cyber-security; advanced materials; life sciences immunology and intelligent infrastructure.
This latest funding competition further reinforces the LEPs commitment to supporting innovation and follows previous investments to bring forward the UKs first dedicated Centre for Cancer Immunology, a £25m state of the art facility Southampton, and the £11m Future Technology Centre in Portsmouth. Both new centres are currently under construction and are scheduled to open in 2017.
Steve Barber, chairman of the Solent LEP Innovation and Business Support Panel, said: "For the UK economy to thrive, investment in innovation will be critical and this fund represents a head-start for major projects in the Solent ahead of the government's Autumn Statement.
“The Solent region is at the heart of innovation in the South East, which has the highest percentage of innovative businesses, product innovations and investment in R&D of any UK region.
"We will be following up today's launch with further funding opportunities for our world-leading innovative SME businesses in the coming months."
The LEP is specifically seeking to invest between £250,000 and £3m, in the form of grant, loan or equity in capital projects which unlock further private sector investment in the area over the next year.
Applications from organisations of all sizes and sectors are welcome and the LEP is keen to encourage “smart manufacturing” projects, enabling production to increase through the use of digital technology, as well as projects that support development of new technology.
The Solent LEP is running a workshop for anyone interested in the competition at Cams Hall, Fareham, on Thursday 13 October to find out more and discuss their project with a member of the team.
The first of two closing dates for applications under this new round is 31 October 2016 and further information on the fund, and details on how to book a place at the workshop, is available at http://solentlep.org.uk/uploads/documents/Round_2_2016-17_Innovation_Fund_-_October_2016_FINAL.pdf