Businesses in Cumbria are able to apply for grants, up to a maximum of £400,000, to develop ways to raise productivity.
The Business Basics programme aims to encourage businesses to adopt productivity-boosting technologies and business practices.
A £2m pot is available, but applications must be received by September 4.
The Government hopes that ideas spawned by the programme can be rolled out to other business, so raising productivity across the UK.
The funding will be used to develop and trial ideas for increasing productivity, and to evaluate their effectiveness.
Suzanne Caldwell, Deputy Chief Executive of Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, said: “Raising productivity is a central plank of the Government’s Industrial Strategy. We know that UK productivity lags behind that of most of our international competitors.
“But raising productivity is especially important for Cumbria because – unlike the UK as a whole – our working-age population is shrinking.
“Many employers here are already struggling to find staff with the right skills, and it’s a problem that is likely to get worse.
“We need to find ways of doing more with fewer people if our economy is to continue to grow and prosper.
“I’d urge businesses to look at the Business Basics Programme and, if you think it could help, contact the Chamber’s Cumbria Business Growth Hub to help frame your application. Don’t delay, because time is of the essence.”
Collaborations are encouraged. Businesses must work with at least one public sector or not-for-profit partner.
For a proof of concept project, businesses can apply for grants up to £60,000. Projects must start by November 1, end by April next year and can last between three and six months.
For full-scale trials, grants of up to £400,000 are available. Projects must start by November 1 and end by December 2019. They can last between three and 12 months. Evaluation may continue after the end of the project.
To be eligible, businesses must:
- Be based in England and carry out the project in England;
- Work in partnership with an English public-sector organisation such as a Growth Hub, LEP or local authority, or with an English university or research and technology organisation, or with a charity, representative body or trade association;
- Comply with EU state aid rules;
- Be willing to have the results of the project independently evaluated and published openly.
To find out more, and to explore how Cumbria Business Growth Hub could act as a partner for your bid, call the Growth Hub now on 0844 257 84 50.
CASE STUDY: CREATEC
Business Basics is delivered by Innovate UK, a government initiative to drive productivity and growth by supporting businesses to develop new technologies and ideas, and make them a commercial success.
It has a track record of working with Cumbrian businesses such as Createc, a computing and electronics engineering business, based in Cockermouth, that specialises in technical consultancy and R&D in applied imaging and sensing.
Funding from Innovate UK and the Nuclear Decommissioning Authority helped Createc develop the lightweight RISER drone, which uses lasers to self-navigate deep inside hazardous facilities where GPS signals cannot reach.
RISER has been used successfully at Sellafield and at the stricken Fukushima-Daiichi nuclear power station in Japan.
It carries a sophisticated radiation detection and mapping system which has been collecting vital information about conditions in the remaining Windscale Pile chimney at Sellafield. More than 60 years after the 1957 fire, the chimney remains highly contaminated.
Using remotely operated equipment is the only way to establish how the chimney can be cleaned out and finally dismantled.
RISER – Remote Intelligence Survey Equipment for Radiation – combines two separate pieces of cutting-edge technology: drones and radiation-mapping software. Each received R&D funding through the NDA and Innovate UK.
In 2009, Createc’s N-Visage radiation mapping software project was boosted during its critical early stages by a £50,000 investment.
Three years later, the NDA joined other government organisations to invest further funds in a wide range of innovative nuclear projects.
This led to the collaboration between Createc and aerial systems specialist Blue Bear, from Bedford. After a series of on-site trials at Sellafield, RISER was put into decommissioning action.
Subsequent collaboration with Blue Bear, again funded by the NDA through an initiative with Innovate UK, led to RISER.
The N-Visage tailor-made technology maps radiation with pinpoint accuracy, producing a high-definition 3D picture of contamination, quickly and safely.
The system can be deployed though small openings, in tight spaces and high-dose environments.
The drone is less than one metre in diameter and navigates using its own internal ‘collision avoidance’ capability. Able to manoeuvre accurately inside complex industrial spaces, data is transmitted to the mapping system and clearly displayed, highlighting areas of contamination.
RISER has many other applications, beyond nuclear decommissioning. It can automatically scan and inspect almost anything including ships, railway lines, oil rigs and other critical infrastructure.
The funding that supports the Growth Hub comes from a range of sources including Cumbria Chamber of Commerce, the European Regional Development Fund, Allerdale Borough Council (Sellafield Ltd’s Allerdale SIIF, distributed by Allerdale Borough Council), Barrow Borough Council (FEDF Coastal Communities Fund Supply Chain Initiative, the Coastal Communities Fund is funded by the Government with income from the Crown Estates marine assets; it is delivered by the Big Lottery Fund on behalf of UK Government), Carlisle City Council, Eden District Council, South Lakeland District Council and Cumbria LEP. The Ministry for Housing Communities and Local Government is the Managing Authority for European Regional Development Fund. Established by the European Union, the European Regional Development Fund helps local areas stimulate their economic development by investing in projects which will support innovation, businesses, create jobs and local community regenerations. For more information, click here.