£2m of funding up for grabs in Business Basics Fund competition

First published on 04 of February 2019 • Updated 01 of February 2019

A new competition offers small businesses their chance of a share of £2 million of government funding. The aim is to support UK businesses that help create and roll out productivity-boosting technology and management practices to companies across the country. Article by Nick Green.

Innovation for businesses

The government is making £2 million available to organisations that help promote the adoption of technology and management practices that increase productivity. Businesses are being invited to compete for this much-anticipated second wave of funding from the Business Basics Fund, which is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK and Nesta.

‘Trying something new is a big step for any business, but true innovation enables firms to grow,’ said Dr Ian Campbell, executive chair of Innovate UK. ‘To solve the UK’s productivity puzzle, we need more firms to adopt new, but proven, technologies and novel ways of doing things so they can get ahead of the competition.’

The Business Basics Fund competition is open to any business, academic institution, local authority or business body that can prove it helps UK businesses work more effectively. Selected businesses can secure up to £60,000 each to run a ‘proof of concept’ project.

The UK’s ‘productivity puzzle’

Business productivity remains a key concern for the government, with reports in January revealing that hourly output rose at its slowest pace in two years between July and September 2018. According to the Office for National Statistics, productivity has averaged growth of just 0.3 per cent in the years after the financial crisis. This has contributed to the stuttering economic and wage growth that has defined the last decade of economic performance.

The Confederation of British Industry (CBI) believes that technology can provide a workable solution. CBI research suggests that adopting productivity-boosting technologies like cloud computing and mobile solutions could give the economy an extra $100 billion and reduce income inequality by 5 per cent.

Support for businesses that support our economy

The first round of funding from the Business Basics Fund was awarded to 15 companies in total. The previous winners included:

  • a pilot scheme by the London School of Economics to adopt AI and chatbots in the retail and hospitality sectors
  • a project by Devon County Council to help rural micro businesses adopt digital business practices
  • the development of a new online tool for SMEs in the dairy sector to find the right technologies to boost their productivity (a joint project between Food Forward and the University of Surrey)
  • London-based charity, Locality, which will trial a scheme that aims to increase the adoption of cloud-based accounting by SMEs in the community sector.

In announcing the competition Small Business Minister Kelly Tolhurst said, ‘Today's investment will support innovative projects that test how government and private sector companies can help small businesses adopt a range of technologies and management practices that save them time and make them more efficient.’

Businesses that are interested in applying for this funding can find guidance on entering from the government’s website. The competition is now open and the deadline for entry is midday on 17 April 2019. Projects must start by 1 September 2019 and can last up to 12 months.

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About the author
Nick Green
Nick Green
Nick Green is communications manager at Unbiased, the UK's favourite place to find advice you can trust. He has been writing professionally on finance, business and many other topics for over 15 years.