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Over £3 Million Of Funding Available To Support Business, Innovation and Research in Berkshire

Thames Valley Berkshire Local Enterprise Partnership (LEP) is investing over £3 million in its ongoing support to business growth with an emphasis on innovation and research in the LEP area.

Two funding calls worth nearly £1.5m have been launched via the European Regional Development Fund (ERDF) and both focus on research and innovation.

The first of the two opportunities supports the shift to innovative technology and will make Thames Valley Berkshire a more energy-efficient, greener place to live and do business. The scheme is worth £432,671 and aims to encourage providers to improve services and sustainability in our towns, including activities in planning, transport, energy and health.

The larger of the two funding calls, ‘Digital Enabling Technologies Knowledge to Market Accelerator’, is worth £600,000 through a multi-LEP call (Thames Valley Berkshire LEP, Enterprise M3 LEP, Dorset LEP, Solent LEP, Coast to Capital LEP and South East LEP). The specification, in line with the recommendations of the Innovation South Science and Innovation Audit, sets to pull emerging technologies from the R&D stage into the market, allowing for economic growth.

£1.733m of Local Growth Funds has already been committed to a ‘Smart City Cluster’ project, which complements the first European funding call and covers Reading, Bracknell, Wokingham and West Berkshire. The project, due to commence in January 2018, will deliver a smart city communications and data platform benefiting residents, employees and encouraging economic development. It will support a range of projects around transport, energy, environment and assisted living with a package focused on small scale funding for start-ups, and has the potential to be accessed across the whole of Berkshire.

The project will be delivered by Reading Borough Council, in collaboration with other partner authorities, with project management from Peter Brett Associates and follows the production of a detailed Investment Strategy by the Borough.

David Parry-Jones, Director and Technology Lead for Thames Valley Berkshire LEP said, “This is an important step-change for the LEP; investing in smart technology in addition to hard and digital infrastructure. The Smart City Cluster is intended to act as a catalyst for both the public sector and private sector.”

Simon Beasley, Network Manager at Reading Borough Council added, “The scheme has the potential to attract funding for research, business investment and start-ups in developing smart products as well as delivering an assisted living element to improve the lives of those with mobility challenges. It is hoped that the project could also bring about significant environmental benefits in improved infrastructure network management services to smooth vehicle flow, improve fuel economy, reduce emissions and air quality risk.”

Rob McDonald, Director of ITS at Peter Brett Associates said, “The purpose of this project is to support the development of smart city solutions in order to improve the quality of life in Berkshire and open up huge opportunities for the low-cost deployment of smart devices for business, developers and Local Authorities to use. The delivery of this project will improve cross-sector and cross-authority working, creating a stronger platform to secure smart city investment across the region.

Thames Valley Berkshire LEP chief executive, Tim Smith, said: “These funding opportunities open the door for investment in key economic priorities for our sub region. I would encourage all businesses within our tech clusters to explore the opportunities they offer to accelerate growth in these emerging and competitive markets. The investment into research and innovation will ensure that our sub region continues to be the natural place to grow and do smart business.”

Knowledge Accelerator - gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds/research-and-innovation-knowledge-accelerator-call-in-multiple-lep-areas-oc50r17p-0687

SMART Cities - gov.uk/european-structural-investment-funds/research-and-innovation-call-in-thames-valley-berkshire-oc35r17p-0638

ERDF is operating under a two-stage application process. The deadline for receiving outline applications is Friday 26 January 2018.

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