Innovation agency Innovate UK announced the fund, which will support small businesses as they travel abroad and build international networks, establish commercial research and development partnerships and see how their innovations could translate to a new market.
The competition will encourage UK firms to create long term partnerships with overseas companies, with a particular focus on emerging markets.
Susan Waterson, UK Trade & Investment (UKTI) deputy regional director for Yorkshire and the Humber, said: “It’s a fantastic opportunity for SMEs to access funding to help innovation and we would urge companies to participate. Innovation is the key to business growth alongside exporting which helps drive sustainable, competitive and resilient UK companies.
"The high standards of innovation in the UK are part of the reason why the Government’s Exporting is GREAT initiative is looking to inspire and encourage another 100,000 businesses to export by 2020 so customers across the world can enjoy cutting edge British products and services.”
Science minster Jo Johnson said: “There are so many innovative companies up and down the country, challenging norms and pioneering new technologies. As science and research becomes more international we want to encourage these companies to forge collaborations across the globe that will help bring their products to mass market. By supporting them to showcase our innovation expertise, we can attract investment, create jobs and help to grow the UK economy.”
Clive Drinkwater, North West regional director for UK Trade & Investment, commented: “In the North West we have a wealth of innovative and creative businesses that perfectly match the criteria for this fund – I hope to see companies throughout the region get involved, and the local Exporting is GREAT team will be on hand to support any winning North West applicants in their export journey.”
Chief executive of Innovate UK, Dr Ruth McKernan, said: “This competition is about pushing out the horizon for companies that haven’t had the means, or inclination to think globally in the past. It will get ideas off the drawing board and into markets around the world, with new partners they may not even have imagined working with previously.
“Business, like science, is a global endeavour. Now more than ever, it is critical that UK companies continue to partner with other businesses and research establishments right across world if they are to remain competitive.”
There will be a competitive process to decide which businesses receive the funding, to ensure that only the very best businesses are funded. The feasibility studies can focus upon any global market, though reasons for pursuing the specific market must be clearly described. The potential impacts and follow-on activities envisaged should also be detailed within the application, which is only open to small and medium sized enterprises.
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