Innovate UK’s Innovation Accelerator Pilot Fuels Local Growth

An innovative pilot programme, the Innovation Accelerator, is creating a significant impact in Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester, and the West Midlands.

Spearheaded by Innovate UK for UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the programme has channelled £100 million into 26 promising projects. As these initiatives hit their midpoint, with a continuation timeline set until March 2025, their influence is unmistakable, drawing substantial private investments, stimulating regional economic development, and paving the way for future technologies.

Selected for their strong research and development (R&D) capabilities, diverse economic landscapes, and solid local governance, these three city regions are now showcasing the tangible benefits of the government's investment. The Innovation Accelerator programme adopts a novel co-creation investment approach, designed to narrow the gap between overarching national strategies and localised, insightful decision-making. The 26 projects, chosen last year through collaborations among local government, the business sector, and R&D institutions, are testaments to this strategic alignment facilitated by Innovate UK.

Key achievements include:

  • In the Glasgow City Region, Chemify Limited spearheaded the 'Modular chemical robot farms for chemical manufacturing' project with a £7.5 million boost from the programme, subsequently attracting £28 million from private investors. This project is now exploring new partnerships to leverage advanced AI-robotics in the quest for non-addictive opioids.
  • Greater Manchester's 'Future Homes' initiative, led by the University of Salford, utilised a £3.54 million investment to explore cutting-edge home technologies for 2025. Their unique test facility, Energy House 2.0, capable of simulating extreme weather conditions within its climatic chambers, is demonstrating how the UK can achieve low-carbon housing on a broad scale.
  • The West Midlands benefitted from a £1.8 million investment in the 'Biochar CleanTech Accelerator' project at Aston University. This funding is set to propel the development of £200 million worth of low-carbon products and generate substantial employment opportunities within the region. The project focuses on converting organic materials like sawdust into Biochar, a sustainable charcoal alternative that enhances soil and plant growth.

Andrew Griffith, Minister of State for Science Research and Innovation, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said: “The Innovation Accelerator programme is showing the power of local collaboration, in capitalising on regional strengths to unleash groundbreaking innovation, from advances in healthcare to solutions to climate change.

“At the same time, these promising pilots in Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are already pulling in millions of pounds in private investment, which is key to levelling-up the UK and bolstering local economies.”

Dean Cook, Director of Place and Levelling up at Innovate UK added: “This unique pilot has supported three dynamic clusters to innovate at pace and in a way never seen before, fostering co-creation between business, academia and national and local Government. 

“The Innovation Accelerator programme aims to demonstrate how partnership between a city region and the UK Government provides synergy and can strengthen innovation clusters as well as catalyse strong local growth. Local leadership has tremendous knowledge on their R&D strengths and how to develop them, and Innovate UK can connect these local strengths into national and global opportunities. Learnings from the pilot programme are already feeding into how we evolve Innovate UK’s broader range of support for business, driving forward the UK as an outstanding place to innovate.”