Gov pledges £134m to help UK businesses build back greener

Robots that patrol UK roads to detect and repair cracks and potholes, the use of artificial intelligence (AI) to reduce beer waste, and converting seaweed into compostable packaging, are just some of over 1,000 projects that will receive £134 million of government investment.

Businesses from Glasgow to Devon are set to benefit from the investment, enabling 1,069 clean growth projects to develop new technologies, secure and create new jobs, drive productivity and tackle climate change.

The Sustainable Innovation Fund, delivered through Innovate UK, is a cornerstone of the £1.25 billion investment package announced by the chancellor in April to help innovative businesses survive and thrive during COVID-19.

The investment forms part of the government’s commitment to support the UK’s entrepreneurs and startups to scale up their innovations, set out in its R&D Roadmap in July.

These ideas could transform industries such as manufacturing, hospitality and the automotive sector by helping them respond to the unique challenges presented by the pandemic, while supporting risk takers to bring their novel ideas to market.

Business secretary Alok Sharma said: “Today’s investment will ensure that our innovators and risk-takers can continue to scale up their ideas, helping the UK to build back better and ensure we meet our clear commitments on tackling climate change.”

The newly-funded projects include marine company Rovco in Bristol, which is developing technology allowing for autonomous underwater inspections of large offshore wind turbines. This will be crucial in assisting human operators carry out effective maintenance of one of the UK’s cleanest, renewable energy sources, which can often be dangerous, while ensuring it is carried out in accordance with social distancing measures.

KegTracker in Pontypridd, Wales, is aiming to reduce the amount of waste in the UK’s brewing industry by using AI to turn kegs into ‘smart containers’ that will provide real time data to accurately monitor the condition and contents of kegs as they travel from brewery to pub and back again.

Oceanium in Argyll, Scotland, is developing an advanced bio-refinery which will turn seaweed into food and compostable packaging products, tackling plastic waste and creating new jobs in the local area, while supporting the UK’s target to reach net zero carbon emissions by 2050.

Meanwhile, Robotiz3D in Manchester is developing autonomous technology which will enable robots to be deployed to patrol UK roads to detect and repair cracks and potholes as soon as they appear. This approach will speed up the time taken to make repairs and will lower overall costs, while reducing the carbon footprint caused by road maintenance vehicles.

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