Metro Mayor announces £1m boost for innovative local businesses

Steve Rotheram

Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram has awarded the first £1m of funding from the Future Innovation Fund to 14 local SMEs who have shown an ability to innovate and adapt in the face of the coronavirus.

Among those awarded funding are a company that has developed a mobile robotic scientist, a fin-tech company developing a carbon offsetting product, and a company that will help other businesses reduce the risk of coronavirus spreading on their premises.

Launched by the mayor in mid-June, the £3m Future Innovation Fund is providing grants to support SMEs that are continuing to innovate in the changed business environment created by COVID-19.

The first wave of funding was significantly oversubscribed, with 236 applications bidding for just over £1m. Future funding rounds will be announced shortly.

As part of Building Back Better, the Liverpool City Region’s economic recovery plan, the mayor has recently requested £20m of funding from government to expand the scheme in future.

Steve Rotheram, said: “Coronavirus is the biggest challenge that many local businesses will ever face, but they have shown a remarkable ability to adapt and innovate. I launched the Future Innovation Fund to help support them through that process.

“It is great that the fund is able to supports SMEs who are able to demonstrate that they are working positively in our priority areas. From working towards a zero carbon economy, to using new technology for the good of society, we want to help good businesses to keep doing good.

“Unfortunately, funding was limited so we haven’t been able to help everybody that we would have liked to.

“As part of our recovery plan for the region we have asked government for £20m to allow us to scale the fund up in future. We will be doing all we can to help local businesses to survive this crisis and thrive afterwards.”

Andy Cooper, chief executive at Mobotics, one of the successful applicants, said: “We’re very excited to receive this backing from the Future Innovation Fund.

“We have had worldwide interest in our work developing mobile robotic scientists and this funding will enable us, as a very young company, to scale up the business to meet that global demand.”

Hannah Thomas, operations manager at Perfectus Biomed, which also received funding, said: “Perfectus Biomed are delighted to learn that our groundbreaking work to develop rapid COVID- 19 screening for businesses has been recognised and that we have secured funding from the Liverpool City Region Future Innovation Fund.

“This investment will allow us to scale up the technology so that it can be offered to all businesses who want to take a proactive, informed approach to monitoring the virus on their premises, potentially helping to reduce the spread of the virus and allowing them to continue to operate.”

The initial 14 successful applicants are:

Sophron Health Ltd: App using habit-building technology to support mental health & lifestyle

Conveyor Networks Ltd: Development and deployment of niche software products to online suppliers

Shimyatech Ltd: Anti-viral sprays and coatings

Inovus Ltd (T/A Inovus Medical): Augmented reality surgical training via home simulator and online portal

Freeform Fabrication Industries Ltd: Additive manufacturing & 3D printing for rapid production of parts and tooling

Studio A.N.D. Ltd T/A Black & Ginger: Expansion of ‘Good Liverpool’ online marketplace for local produce

MM Sensors Ltd: 4D coastal monitoring and exploration portal

2DHeat Ltd: Zero carbon heaters for homes and commercial spaces

Tickr Ltd: CO2 emissions calculator & carbon offsetting app

C-Probe Systems Ltd: Developing new products using low-carbon substitute for cement

Beverston Engineering Ltd: Automated, digital production management for precision engineering

Mobotics Ltd: Mobile robotic scientists

Perfectus Biomed Ltd: COVID-19 self audit kit for businesses

Gencoa Ltd: Surface coatings that kill microbes and viruses at high speed