South West companies raised more than £40m to develop innovative technologies and grow their businesses in 2021, new figures show.
Since launching in January 2021, Innovate UK EDGE, a programme run by the UK’s innovation agency, has driven growth across the region, helping innovators raise more than £27m in equity investments and loans, and more than £13m in grant funding.
Ambitious businesses from Penzance to Cheltenham have worked with Innovate UK EDGE Finance Specialists to identify appropriate funding sources, become investment ready and submit high-quality grant applications.
The bespoke 1-2-1 support from Innovate UK EDGE has also enabled innovators to revamp their business strategies, internationalise, boost sales through new marketing initiatives and introduce customer centric design principles.
In total, 540 businesses have accessed this support in 2021, with 190 entering new markets and 130 bringing new services to market – all following interventions from Innovate UK EDGE. The subsequent growth has enabled these regional innovators to create 320 extra jobs in 2021.
“Innovate UK EDGE launched at a pivotal time for South West businesses with unprecedented restrictions on daily operations, new trading relationships with the world and major skills and supply chain shortages,” said Paul O’Collins, manager of Innovate UK EDGE operations in the South West.
“We’ve reacted by delivering game-changing growth support that’s tailored to the needs of individual businesses across all areas of the economy.”
“Our specialist-led, practical guidance has helped innovators to create tangible market value, overcome barriers to growth and go further, faster.”
In Devon, Innovate UK EDGE helped fan engagement innovator Filmily to expand into the US and raise US$375,000, following participation in the Pitchfest investment readiness scheme.
Totnes-based Filmily is now working with The Dallas Cowboys, The San Francisco 49ers and The US Tennis Open alongside its partner Wasserman.
“Innovate UK EDGE’s insights and proactiveness has made Filmily far more global and resilient – I don’t think we would have expanded into the US without their support,” said Andy Doyle, co-founder of Filmily.
“The Pitchfest coaching also helped us to structure our pitch, stand out from the competition and raise finance.”
Aside from Pitchfest, Innovate UK EDGE South West continues to deliver other national initiatives including grants to receive IP Audits and access the UK’s Catapult Centres and other RTOs (research and technology organisations).
Businesses across the South West also continue to benefit from the Global Business Innovation Programme (GBIP) which provides funded visits to target markets in key technology sectors, and the identification of partners for international collaboration and growth.
“We have great faith in the ingenuity and potential of the South West’s technology sectors, and in our region generally as a hotbed for ideas and innovation,” said Mr O’Collins. “Innovate UK EDGE is here to help translate that potential into economic prosperity.”
This faith is reflected in the growth statistics for the South West technology sector, which is the fastest growing part of the regional economy.
Business Live’s South West Business Reporter is William Telford. William has more than a decade’s experience reporting on the business scene in Plymouth and the South West. He is based in Plymouth but covers the entire region.
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According to Tech South West, The region’s technology sector generated £9bn in turnover in 2021, employed upwards of 68,000 people and attracted more than £500m in VC investment – a 500% increase from 2016.
“Going into 2022, Innovate UK EDGE will continue to provide game-changing growth support to all innovation led businesses, helping them to scale rapidly and improve our region’s standing in the global economy,” said Mr O’Collins.