Government launches £2 million funding competition

A government funding competition allows small businesses to win a share of £2 million for productivity-boosting tech and management practices.

A funding competition has launched with £2 million available to businesses, academia and local authorities.

The money will go to new projects focused on testing out ways of rolling out existing productivity-boosting technology and management practices for businesses.

It comes from the Business Basics Fund which is part of the modern Industrial Strategy. The strategy aims to boost UK national productivity and is being delivered alongside Innovate UK and Nesta.

Research from the Confederation of Business Industry (CBI) suggests that by encouraging more businesses to take advantage of existing technologies, managing practices and business support – things like cloud computing, mobile technology and e-purchasing – the UK economy could receive a £100 billion boost and a five per cent reduction in income equality.

Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of Nesta, said that the Business Basics Fund signals a welcome commitment by government to applying experimental methods to boosting economic productivity.

‘It is vitally important that we gather evidence about the effectiveness, or otherwise, of the billions of pounds that are spent by governments around the world, currently with not enough hard evidence about what works,’ he said.

The first round of funding

Small businesses in the dairy, retail and hospitality sectors are to receive £2 million in government funding from the first round.

It will go towards 15 projects that help small firms use technology. These 15 projects include digital dairy farming, AI chatbots and cloud computing.

Among the winning bidders are collaborations between businesses and groups including the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), Enterprise Nation, Universities, Cavendish Enterprise, government-backed growth hubs and local authorities.

Business Support Evaluation

The government has also published the Business Support Evaluation Framework.

It will set out quality standards that are expected for evaluations of BEIS- funded business support programmes and will enable the effectiveness of different policies and programmes to be compared.

It’s designed to help policy makers, evaluators and delivery bodies to generate significant evidence that it works, so BEIS can make better-informed decisions for current and future policies.

The government is keen on funding science and research to keep the UK at the forefront of new technologies and the benefits they bring.

The Industrial Strategy is also helping to nurture and upskill people for the future through increased investment in technical education and a national retraining scheme.

Related: – Looking for funding? Find the right finance for your business here

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Anna Jordan

Anna is Senior Reporter, covering topics affecting SMEs such as grant funding, managing employees and the day-to-day running of a business.