By Claire West

Small UK businesses will be able to obtain Government funding to help them develop and grow with the launch this month of a new and easily accessible Innovation Voucher scheme.

Opening on 24 September 2012 the scheme — to be managed by the UK’s innovation agency, the Technology Strategy Board ( — will enable start-up, micro, small and medium-sized businesses to access up to £5,000 worth of advice and expertise from universities, research organisations or other private sector knowledge suppliers.

Initially, Innovation Vouchers will be available to businesses that are working on ideas relevant to the agrifood and built environment sectors. The vouchers, available from 24 September, will have a value up to £5,000 and will enable businesses to work with an external expert for the first time by paying towards the cost of their services.

In addition to these sectors, a number of vouchers valued at up to £8,000 will be available to businesses working on ideas in the space sector, in association with the International Space Innovation Centre.

The Technology Strategy Board will monitor the scheme’s progress and consider extending it to other sectors in future.

Innovation Vouchers will enable businesses to access knowledge for all types of innovation, such as:

Ideas for new or improved products, processes and services;
Using design to improve ideas;
Managing intellectual property.

Business can use their Innovation Vouchers to work with knowledge suppliers such as:

Universities and further education colleges;
Research and technology organisations;
Technical consultancies;
Catapult centres;
Design advisers;
Intellectual property advisers.

Applications should be made via the Technology Strategy Board’s website at