£134 million boost to help UK businesses ‘build back greener’

The £134 million government investment is to keep the UK’s ‘greenest, most innovative businesses’ thriving during coronavirus pandemic, government says.

Businesses across the UK are set to benefit from £134 million investment, enabling ‘ground-breaking clean growth’ projects develop new technologies and secure new jobs, the Government says.

It also says the funding could help to secure and create new jobs across the country.

The projects include an initiative to service offshore wind turbines autonomously, use AI to reduce beer waste in the brewing process and convert seaweed into compostable packaging to tackle plastic waste.

The investment part of the government’s initiative to ‘build back better’ by supporting what it calls ‘the UK’s risk takers’ to bring innovative ideas to market.

Businesses right across the UK, from Glasgow to Devon, will benefit from the investment, enabling 1,069 ground-breaking clean growth projects develop new technologies, secure and create new jobs, drive productivity and tackle climate change, the UK government says.

Wind turbines

This includes marine company Rovco in Bristol, which is developing unique technology allowing for autonomous underwater inspections of large offshore wind turbines. This will be crucial in assisting human operators carry out effective maintenance of one of the UK’s cleanest, renewable energy sources, which can often be dangerous, while ensuring it is carried out in accordance with social distancing measures.

Reducing beer waste

KegTracker in Pontypridd, Wales, is aiming to reduce the amount of waste in the UK’s brewing industry by using artificial intelligence (AI) to turn kegs into ‘smart containers’ that will provide real time data to accurately monitor the condition and contents of kegs as they travel from brewery to pub and back again. This will help reduce the amount of liquid that is thrown away annually, currently costing the UK an estimated £5 billion a year.

Seaweed packaging

Another company, Oceanium in Argyll, Scotland, is developing an advanced bio-refinery which will turn seaweed into food and compostable packaging products, tackling plastic waste and creating new jobs in the local area, while supporting the UK’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Transforming industries

Government hopes these ideas will ‘transform whole industries’ such as manufacturing, hospitality and the automotive sector by helping them respond to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, while supporting risk takers to bring their novel ideas to market.

Business Secretary Alok Sharma said: “The UK’s response to coronavirus has demonstrated the very best of British ingenuity, and it is this resourcefulness that will help us navigate our way through this pandemic.

“Today’s investment will ensure that our innovators and risk-takers can continue to scale up their ideas, helping the UK to build back better and ensure we meet our clear commitments on tackling climate change.”

The Sustainable Innovation Fund, delivered through Innovate UK, is a cornerstone of the £1.25 billion investment package announced by the Chancellor in April to help ambitious, innovative businesses survive and thrive during the current pandemic.

Executive Chair Innovate UK Dr Ian Campbell said: “Yet again we see the exciting range of business innovation taking place across the United Kingdom, despite these difficult times.

“Every initiative we’ve supported here represents an important step forward in sustainable economic development, but also one step nearer dreams becoming reality for ambitious hard-working company owners and their staff.”

The investment forms part of the government’s commitment to support the UK’s entrepreneurs and start-ups to scale up their innovations, set out in its ambitious R&D Roadmap in July this year.

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