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The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) scheme - a source of funding for businesses

The Small Business Research Initiative is a scheme which aims to use government procurement to drive innovation. Government procurement accounts for a sizable proportion of GDP, and the rationale is that technology projects can be supported through the stages of feasibility and prototyping which are typically hard to fund.  The NHS and MOD have been particularly active with the SBRI scheme, but the Highways Agency and the Department for Communities are among a number of others to get involved.

The scheme allows early stage high-tech companies to develop and demonstrate technology, supported by a customer, and to enter the field of government procurement. There are two phases – the first involves preliminary Research & Development (R&D) which will contribute to the scientific, technical and commercial feasibility of a project. The second phase is to fund a prototype, the logic being that this will then be manufactured and purchased by the relevant government department. The intellectual property rights will be held by the company (if rights of usage are granted to the funding authority).

There appear to be no size limits on companies that can submit applications to the scheme, but it is likely that SME businesses will be favoured. 

Click here for a list of the current applications.

The SBRI appears to have several successes since its inception earlier this year, and I hope that central government continues to support it. For those involved in R&D, it is also worth remembering the R&D tax credits that may be available (which can create a significant reduction in tax payments).

Julian Dobbin is a partner at Mercer & Hole. The views given in this blog are personal to the author.

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Date: 9th December, 2009
Author: Julian Dobbin

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