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Rebecca Wayman

Small UK businesses set to 'benefit' from new government funding in tech and management

Technology projects and pilots across the UK, including digital dairy farming, AI chatbots and cloud computing technology, are among those to benefit from a new fund to boost the productivity of UK small businesses.

Small business minister, Kelly Tolhurst reportedly confirmed this today (January 29). A total of 15 projects from all parts of the UK have won a share of £2m from the first round of funding from the Business Basics Fund.

Among the winning bidders are collaborations between businesses and groups including the Chartered Institute of Professional Development (CIPD), Enterprise Nation, Universities, Cavendish Enterprise and government-backed Growth Hubs.

Dr Ian Campbell, Innovate UK’s executive chair, said: “Trying something new is a big step for any business, but true innovation enables firms grow.

“To solve the UK’s productivity puzzle, we need more firms to adopt new, but proven, technologies and novel ways of doing things so they can get ahead of the competition.”

A second funding competition has launched with £2m available to businesses, academia and local authorities for new projects focused on testing ways of rolling out existing productivity-boosting technology and management practices to businesses.

The fund, which forms part of the government’s plan to boost UK national productivity through its modern Industrial Strategy, is delivered in partnership with Innovate UK and Nesta.

Research from the CBI suggests that by encouraging more businesses to take advantage of existing technologies, management practices and business support - such as cloud computing, mobile technology and e-purchasing - the UK economy could receive a £100bn boost and see a five per cent reduction in income inequality.

Geoff Mulgan, chief executive of innovation foundation Nesta, added: “The Business Basics Fund signals a welcome commitment by government to applying experimental methods to boosting economic productivity.”

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