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UK's Technology Strategy Board aims funding at SMEs

06 Dec 2012

Photonics and sensors – though not biophotonics – projects are set to be funded under a “fast-track” scheme worth up to £10 million.

The UK’s Technology Strategy Board (TSB) has launched a new £10 million funding competition aimed at so-called enabling technologies – including photonics and sensors.

The “fast-track” approach of the scheme is designed for projects aiming to advance the development of a recent technological breakthrough that promises to be applicable across a wide range of markets.

Focused largely on SMEs, the competition brief specifically mentions lasers for industrial processing, solid-state lighting and photovoltaics as potential areas that could be funded, although healthcare applications of photonics are specifically excluded.

As well as photonics and sensor technologies, the competition scope includes advanced materials, information and communication technology (ICT), power electronics and more.

Two funding strands
Two project “strands” are set to receive funding. The first, described as a single-stage, fast-track process, is for projects led by SMEs and lasting between 6 and 12 months.

The second strand to be funded is a two-stage competition for projects lasting up to two years, and is aimed at consortia including at least one SME.

In its competition brief, the TSB writes: “The objective of this competition is to stimulate collaborative innovation across supply chains and disciplines inspired by new discoveries and breakthroughs. Ideas that are able to underpin capabilities in a range of markets are a key focus.”

“We welcome new proposals for collaboration in addition to those from previous entrants of our technology-inspired feasibility studies competitions where there may be an opportunity for a collaborative approach to take ideas forward.”

The TSB adds that some additional funding may be available from the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council (BBSRC), for projects in line with the scope of the competition that also contain a "significant, high-quality academic research component" and which are complementary to their existing research programs and portfolios.

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