Helping to pave the way?

When we were set up as a "non-departmental public body at arms length from Government" just over 2 years ago, we inherited a set of "tools" to enable us to carry out our role.  In the first year, we managed to introduce some improvement in efficiency in our processes - and reduced the time from application to funding by a factor of about three or four.  We have now run several competitions for variants of the collaborative research and development process and listened to the feedback.  That feedback acquired a more plaintive tone as the economic downturn of the last year or so took hold. 

One very specific request was for us to make it easier for small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs) to take part in our competitions, by providing some support for them to "get ready".  The problem is that they have very little spare resource to spend the time thinking about the future and how they address it.  It's the old metaphor about being too busy fighting the crocodiles to have time to drain the swamp. 

On top of this investment of time, our process adds further time needed for attending our briefing sessions, reading all our guidance documents, and filling in our forms.  We make no apologies for this process because we are using public money and need to have both a robust process for making sure we support the most innovative and potentially profitable proposals, and an audit trail to show we used it!

Our latest attempt to answer SMEs' needs begins this month, with a new fast-track competition. 

We know that next year we will be holding fairly large competitions in the areas of Digital Britain, Regenerative Medicine and the underpinning technology areas; this new smaller, faster competition will enable companies or consortia to do some pre-work and get their proposals ready for those future calls. 

This could be a feasibility study, some early stage work on the project itself, or just a paper-based exercise to check the facts before submitting a full proposal. 

The competitions will only be open during this September but the requirements for proposals are a lot lighter than usual, the assessment process is lightning quick and the work will need to be started well before the end of this year. 

In addition, we will be holding a workshop in March of next year for the successful companies and consortia to present back to us the results, their exploitation plan or the reasons why it hasn't worked as they planned.  They can then take their results and our feedback and apply for the larger competitions we intend to run next Autumn, apply for European or other funding, or take the results to their favourite venture capitalists, their bank or their rich uncle!

Success in this competition does not guarantee success in the larger competition, but we hope that by helping people spend time thinking about their future, assembling their arguments and trying some early experiments or tests, they will then be in a better position to take advantage of any future funding opportunities that arise.

 

Last updated on Wednesday 02 September 2009 at 10:42

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  • web development|06/11/09 at 9:02 AM

    That was inspiring,

    Looking like a great company,

    Keep up the good work,

    Anyway, thanks for the post

    M.Kllar|02/09/09 at 2:08 PM

    London 2th of September 2009
    RE: New Invention's
    Dear Sir,
    I have little multimillions potential Inventions;
    a) Clear vision, comprehensive windscreen wipers system for: car, lorry, plane, and train shipping liner.
    b) Clear vision mirror for 360 degrees view around vehicle, as well design that prevent mirror damage when parking the vehicle.
    b) D.V.T. prevention seating chair that will apply for any application; aeroplane seating, car seating, sofa seating, office seating and so on.
    c) Artificial limb prosthetics and surgical procedure that allowing 50% increasing limb function, above or below amputation. Fingers function without electronic, movement of fingers by natural muscular functions, and control by patient brain.
    Waiting for your reply with selection which design you panel will be of interested of hearing,
    All invention have multimillions potential.
    Reply by letter or email.
    MCP 117 Upper Tollington Park, London N4 4ND.
    displaymcp@yahoo.co.uk
    08009554007
    Best regards
    M Kllar

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