Funding Innovations

Digital innovation requires a few key elements:

  • The ability to develop the right product to move innovation forward
  • The ability to implement that innovation and benchmark the results
  • The key factor – funding

Clearly businesses are already considering how they will fund their next innovation idea. It is becoming clear that there is a rank of huge investor companies out there waiting to support the next big ideas.

Such investors are loyal supporters of innovative projects as they have likely seen their investments grow. Facebook, Uber, Deliveroo are all great examples, but are now becoming “mainstream”. Investors are now looking for the “next big thing”. 

It’s important to realise that the people that bring the innovative ideas to life by spending weeks coding application developments for example, may not be confident about marketing the idea and seeking financial support.

The government understands that innovation requires cash but as with all public sector funding, there is always a strong argument for what is inevitably a limited pot of money. So, it is down to private investors to support the innovation revolution?

According to a House of Lords report – the government can do more to help with digital innovation.

The House of Lords Science and Technology committee has just released a document which analyses the work and impact of innovation centres which have been called the Catapult Network.

These networks include a Digital Catapult to support the development of digital solutions.

Catapults are independent technology and innovation hubs that have been established to foster stronger relations between the world of academia and the research industry, not to make a profit.

In simple terms it is hoped that these hubs will catapult an idea into a reality. But the House of Lords believes more can be done.

The report states:

“The Government’s ambitions for research and development are not supported by a detailed plan or sufficient investment in innovation. Action is needed to bolster the network of innovation Catapults, and to improve collaboration by universities and industry.

The UK’s research and innovation system has the necessary components to be successful, but there is insufficient collaboration between organisations and insufficient scale to deliver the required levels of innovation and commercial success.

The Catapult Network is an integral part of the UK’s innovation system. The Government should expand the Catapult Network to support technologies in which the UK excels and that can bring substantial economic benefits – including to assist in the levelling up agenda. Changes are needed to remove barriers that limit the Catapults’ effectiveness: universities, Catapults and industry need to be encouraged (and permitted) to interact more deeply; and rules governing innovation funding should be reformed, to allow greater flexibility for Catapults and their partners.”

As we can’t all go on Dragon’s Den – there is an obvious answer. This column is a great advocate for Google but it is easy to forget that it is also the most effective search engine we have. So do what I did simply type in “how do I find someone to invest in my idea” and there will be many solutions offered.

Perhaps the next big thing is a digital marketplace to match ideas and cash. Who knows, perhaps there already is one – let’s ask Google.

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