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Grants for entrepreneurial start-ups in the UK

| Editor: Briggette Jaya

As of the first anniversary of UKI2S Innovate Accelerator, 18 companies having been awarded a total of £6m.
As of the first anniversary of UKI2S Innovate Accelerator, 18 companies having been awarded a total of £6m. (Source: Pixabay)

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The first anniversary of the UKI2S Innovate Accelerator marks its success in funding to reach entrepreneurial start-ups in the UK.

The UK Innovation & Science Seed Fund (UKI2S), a joint funding initiative with Innovate UK (IUK) directed at early stage science and engineering companies, recently celebrated the first anniversary of its UKI2S Innovate Accelerator. Twelve months since the Accelerator launch, 60% of the available funds have been allocated, with 18 companies having been awarded a total of £6m, the initiative reported. The UKI2S Innovate Accelerator funding was expected to leverage equity funding to at least a similar level but, fact is, the result is substantially higher, with ten companies having completed the raise securing more than £21m to date, a ratio of £6.4 for every £1 of grant. Eight remaining companies are in the process of closing equity funding rounds.

The UKI2S Innovate Accelerator combines the technology assessment and grant funding capabilities of Innovate UK, which has committed £10m to this initiative, with the investment expertise of UKI2S, one of the UK’s leading seed-stage investors. The Accelerator is open to companies in the UKI2S portfolio, which currently consists of over 40 of the UK’s most innovative science and engineering companies, most of which originate from the labs and campuses of UKI2S partners including BBSRC, STFC, NERC, Dstl[1] and other government-funded research institutes.

As the name suggests, the UKI2S Innovate Accelerator is designed to help companies drive their innovation, product development and intellectual property value faster than might be possible with equity investment alone. As indicated by the high levels of equity raised, support from non-dilutive grant funding is frequently an incentive to investors to increase their investment to support more rapid expansion.

Dr Andrew Muir, Investment Director at UKI2S, commented: “We have received applications from across the UK spanning a wide range of sectors, demonstrating the wealth of talent and entrepreneurship present in the UK. Capturing commercial potential from the UK science base is going from strength to strength and we are delighted to be able to support this growth.”

A diverse range of portfolio companies have so far received funding through the Accelerator. Ventures in healthcare, biotechnology, materials, consumer products, energy and industrial measurement have all received grants. The funding is also broadly spread across the country, with the majority outside London and the South East.

One recipient exemplifying the innovation championed by this initiative is Tokamak Energy, a spin out from the UK Atomic Energy Authority. The company is developing compact spherical tokamaks to generate fusion energy; the grant was used in part to extend research into other applications for its advanced magnet technology including compact MRI scanners. Other companies include Joost, which has developed a novel super-lightweight engine with the power-density and simplicity of a 2-stroke combined with the emissions, efficiency and reliability characteristics of a modern 4-stroke; AgPlus, developing a point-of-care diagnostic technology platform for a wide range of clinical applications; CytoSeek, using novel cell membrane augmentation technology to add new functionalities to cell therapies;and Linear Diagnostics, exploiting a novel platform technology to be used for assays ranging from detection of antibiotic resistance in infections to testing for bacteria that cause rotting in food crops.

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