The Government is investing more than £54million in South West businesses and research to “future proof” the economy and create jobs.
UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) is injecting the cash to tackle what it sees as major societal challenges and to help the UK “build back better”.
Projects already under way in the region involve unmanned flying drones, air transport in towns and cities and wearable tech for cows.
UKRI is currently funding 155 South West projects, involving 12 researchers and 125 businesses, under its Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF), which has already injected £1.7billion into businesses across the UK spanning the areas of clean growth, ageing society, the future of mobility, and artificial intelligence (AI) and data economy. Nationally, more than 6,000 jobs are expected to be created in the next five years as a result of ISCF projects.
Among the South West projects to be awarded funding through ISCF is SkyDroCell, which is receiving £349,311 for a project led by Taunton-based Cybervector and Bristol’s Zenotech.
The project is to test the feasibility of a risk monitoring and assessment system for use by authorities, insurers, operators and other stakeholders to allow the safe and effective use of unmanned drones and other flying vehicles.
If successful, the project could lead to the future creation of a dynamically updated Air Traffic Management or Unmanned Traffic Management service, which would form the basis for safe and efficient Future Flight services.
Another project to receive funding is Skybus. Receiving £368,443, the project is a collaboration between a consortium of aircraft manufacturing experts to test the feasibility of a new transport network that will offer a larger, cheaper and more accessible aerial mobility solutions, in other words air transport, in the most congested urban areas for the benefit of the public.
Meanwhile, REMEDY was awarded more than £1.7million to provide precision technologies to dairy farmers. Led by Wells-based Quality Milk Management Services, the project will enable dairy farmers to access real-time data to ensure farms are as productive, efficient and environmentally friendly as possible.
This includes technology such as wearable devices for cows that track their behaviour and nutrition, ensuring farmers can make more informed decisions when managing their farm.
Mike Biddle, ISCF programme director at UKRI, said: “The projects we’ve seen so far in the South West will help tackle the industrial challenges of the future including future flight and the Ten Point Plan for a Green Industrial Revolution.
Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.
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“We’re already starting to see these innovative ideas be brought to life and we look forward to seeing the results over the coming months and years.
“We’ve seen 63% of all project participants anticipate that annual turnover will increase as a result of engaging with the Challenge Fund.
“We encourage the top minds in industry and academia across the South West to come together and apply for funding to help bring research to life and develop real-world applications that will see benefits on a local and national level.”
UKRI seeks to drive business investment in R&D and multi and interdisciplinary research, improve business-academic engagement on innovation activities, encourage collaboration between companies and attract overseas investment in R&D in the UK.
ISCF has identified 23 key challenges facing UK businesses. From transforming food production to self-driving vehicles and commercialising quantum technologies, the investments made are already transforming existing industries by refining and creating new technological innovations.
With 231 projects completed and 1,600 funded so far, UKRI has already injected £1.7billion into 1,544 businesses across the UK with an additional £567million invested by private industry.