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North West firms have claimed 84% less Government innovation funding than their neighbours

BUSINESSES in the North West haven't been claiming their share of Government innovation funding; settling for 84% less than the best performing Region next door, a study by innovation funding specialist Catax shows. Businesses across the UK have enjoyed £12.3bn of grant awards from Government innovation agency, Innovate UK, since 2003. However, in that time firms in the North West have claimed less grant cash than any other Region, when adjusted for business population.

Companies in the North West have received the equivalent of just £1,039 per business, while the neighbouring North East has come out on top, netting the equivalent of £6,504 per company. Total grant funding nationally has equalled £2,563 per business; meaning the North West is 59.5% behind the UK average. Applicants in the North West have been awarded £484million in total.

The largest grant in the North West over the last 5 years was for £12m handed to Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in the Knowledge Quarter, to develop infectious disease research platforms.

Top 3 highest grant awards in the North West in the past 5 years:-

Liverpool School of Tropical Medicine, in Liverpool, was offered:- £12,158,234, for:- "Delivering solutions for human infections through 8 research platforms for infectious disease therapeutics."

Leyland Trucks Limited, South Ribble, was offered:- ££9,972,509, for:- "Leyland Trucks will manufacture and deploy 20 electric trucks in a demonstration battery electric truck project."

Essar Oil Limited,Cheshire West and Chester, was offered:- £4,510,578, for:- "Upgrading a major distillation unit with a net zero ready furnace to deliver immediate energy efficiency improvements."

Other Regions trailing the national average are Northern Ireland (£1,465), Wales (£1,623), the East of England (£1,922), Yorkshire and Humber (£2,204) and the East Midlands (£2,084). The national disparity has improved only slightly in the past 5 years and is still cause for concern. The North East was still the biggest recipient (£2,586 per business) between 2017 and 2022, while the North West continued to benefit the least (£473 per business). However, the gap has narrowed, with the North West receiving 81.7% less per company compared to the top performing Region more recently. Grant funding nationally equalled £1,093 per business over the past 5 years. The results of the study serve as a wake up call to businesses across the UK to ensure they are taking advantage of funding opportunities on offer, as a lack of awareness continues to hold back applications.

Karen Taylor, Group Head of Grants at innovation funding specialist Catax, comments:- "When it comes to claiming grants, the North West has been well off the pace since Innovate UK's inception while its neighbour, the North East, reaps the rewards. Grants can be a crucial source of funding for businesses, giving many the leg up they need to invest in new research and innovations. With many grants in recent years focusing on green technologies and reducing carbon emissions, these awards ultimately filter down and benefit us all. These findings should serve as a call to action for North West businesses to take a closer look at what grants are on offer which could help them get their project off the ground."

Grants awarded per Region, adjusted for business population:-

Region  No. of Businesses Total Grant Awards Total Grant Award per Business
North East 132,220 £859,986,288 £6,504
West Midlands 373,840 £1,473,444,784 £3,941
London 817,900 £2,560,463,611 £3,131
Scotland 309,100 £835,779,637 £2,704
South West 460,760 £1,233,309,218 £2,677
South East 777,820 £2,014,084,747 £2,589
Yorkshire and the Humber 342,200  £754,227,131 £2,204
East Midlands 316,900 £660,542,048 £2,084
East of England 499,800 £960,702,163 £1,922
Wales 196,880 £319,441,097 £1,623
Northern Ireland 117,060 £171,495,283 £1,465
North West 465,640 £483,602,376 £1,039

Region No. of Businesses Total Grant Awards Total Grant Award per Business
North East 154,860  £400,543,920 £2,586
West Midlands 461,240 £888,899,335 £1,927
Scotland 344,680 £440,383,535 £1,278
South East 909,940 £1,102,291,480 £1,211
London 1,085,520 £1,229,345,533 £1,132
Wales 209,200 £215,457,512 £1,030
South West 544,940 £504,154,437 £925
East Midlands 371,840 £328,607,391 £884
Yorkshire and the Humber 416,900 £350,109,770 £840
East of England 580,400 £480,273,571 £827
Northern Ireland 132,120 £97,392,043 £737
North West 548,640 £259,732,712 £473

Volunteers needed to help transform lives in Southport

THE Royal Voluntary Service in Southport, Merseyside, is encouraging more people in the area to reap the benefits of volunteering whilst supporting the health and happiness of their community. The leading national volunteering charity provides invaluable social and practical support to people in need across the UK and in Southport. Thanks to players of People's Postcode Lottery, the charity and its volunteers are able to improve the health and wellbeing, resilience, confidence and connections of some of Merseyside's most vulnerable people.

Just 1 of the ways local volunteers are improving people's lives in Southport includes:- serving refreshments to staff, visitors and patients at the Royal Voluntary Service retail site in Southport and Formby District General Hospital. Staying in Hospital or visiting loved ones can be a challenging experience, and so as well as serving customers, volunteers ensure that they are always greeted by a friendly face who's there to listen and chat, in what could be a difficult or uncertain time.

The welcoming team are looking for more friendly retail volunteers with good communication and listening skills to help them continue providing this valuable service. This is a fantastic opportunity to gain voluntary experience within a retail environment, meet new people and help bring a smile to people's faces. People are also being encouraged to sign up for an Emergency Response Volunteer role, to join a team of standby volunteers who will be ready to come to the aid of their communities when urgent needs arise.

As a result of donating their time, Royal Voluntary Service volunteers report better physical health, mental health and wellbeing, with 81% of Pandemic volunteers reporting an improvement in this; new skills and work experience; and a sense of connection to others in their community. In a recent report, more than a third (38%) of Royal Voluntary Service volunteers said that volunteering has also improved their confidence.

Royal Voluntary Service is encouraging anyone who wants to make a positive difference to their community and experience the countless benefits of volunteering to step forward and find out about more about the roles at:- RoyalVoluntaryService.Org.UK.

Chris Gray, Royal Voluntary Service Head of Retail, said:- "Our Royal Voluntary Service volunteers at Southport and Formby District General Hospital make a huge difference to the experience of visitors and staff, ensuring they feel welcome when they pop by for snacks, comforts and essentials. Because our volunteers so selflessly give their time, customers are always greeted by a friendly, compassionate face, helping to make a visit to the Hospital, or staff's working day, that little bit brighter. We are looking forward to welcoming more volunteers to our friendly team. It's hugely rewarding work and gives volunteers a chance to make new friends, learn new skills, and to see that they're making a real difference to people's lives."

Laura Chow, Head of Charities at People's Postcode Lottery, said:- "Volunteers are invaluable in helping boost the health and wellbeing of those around them. Many volunteers also find that their own health and wellbeing improves through helping others, and they take great pride in their roles. By stepping forward and generously giving their time, volunteers change not only other people's lives for the better, but also their own."

Royal Voluntary Service is 1 of Britain's largest volunteering charities with volunteers supporting the NHS and thousands of vulnerable people in the community. The charity delivers the NHS Volunteer Responders programme for NHS England enabled by the GoodSAM app with volunteers responding to over 2.2 million requests for help and supporting with over 300,000 shifts at vaccination sites. The charity also works in local communities running home libraries, companionship support, home from Hospital services and patient transport. Its Virtual Village Hall provides live classes and tutorials on Facebook to promote well being and keep people active.

Juice dispenser manufacturer embraces augmented reality to accelerate growth

A manufacturer of juice dispensers is using augmented reality to transform its sales process, drive productivity and create new jobs. GenerationJuice, based in Bromborough, Liverpool City Region, makes app-driven drink dispensers, or drink hubs, designed to serve natural juice drinks from concentrate into reusable bottles, as an alternative to single use plastic and aluminium cans. After success in the leisure and Hospitality industry the business, which launched in 2019, has started to target emerging markets such as education and healthcare.

It worked with Made Smarter's Adoption Programme in the North West to develop a digital demo experience using augmented reality to enable customers to visualise the dispenser on their site while tasting samples of the drinks at the same time. The app based solution eliminates the time consuming and inefficient face-to-face demonstration process which typically ties up 2 sales staff for ½ a day. GenerationJuice estimates that with new marketing activity to generate demo leads, productivity will increase by 600% and turnover by 50%. The technology investment has also created 2 new jobs.

Simon Edwards, co-founder, said:- "The Pandemic had a significant impact on the business, restricting our access to potential customers. We used the time to rethink the way we approached certain processes. Made Smarter's support came at a crucial time and its support has helped us to shape our digital roadmap and accelerate our ambitions. Our first step is to create more sales opportunities using emerging technologies which will drive our ambition of building 1,000 dispensers over the next 3 years."

By using the app and sending tasting samples of its 180 drink portfolio by courier, GenerationJuice will cut its annual mileage by 20,000, reducing its own carbon footprint. With sustainability high on the agenda, GenerationJuice estimates its products can offer resource efficiency for its customers in terms of waste reduction, energy savings, and environmental impact. It estimates that an average customer can expect to save 1 ton of plastic or aluminium waste based on an average consumption of 75-90,000 plastic bottles or cans; potentially reducing the company's energy consumption by up to 63%.

Director of Made Smarter's North West Adoption programme, said:- "We are delighted to be supporting GenerationJuice to accelerate its digital transformation. It is a fantastic example of a small business investing in emerging technologies as a route to growth, prosperity and sustainability. GenerationJuice is among hundreds of manufacturers in the Region grasping the opportunities offered by Made Smarter which include expert, impartial technology advice, digital transformation workshops to help take that first step to transform a business, and support with technology investment. I would encourage other SME manufacturers to do the same."

For more information, visit:- MadeSmarter.UK/Adoption.


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