With businesses experiencing constraints on bank lending and other finance, there are few options for ambitious companies to secure funding for innovation through research and development grants.
Self-service automation solutions provider VoxGen has been one of the lucky one. The company was awarded £214,000 this year by the Technology Strategy Board (TSB), a non-departmental public body that was established by the government and sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills.
These government grants are part of the TSB’s £8.5 million investment in innovative research and development projects. The company used the money to research, develop and enhance voice biometrics to support consumer identification and verification.
‘It’s a super opportunity to validate that you’ve got a good line of R&D to pursue’
VoxGen was given the chance to work with consortium partners Mydex Data Services and Latitude Partners.
Chief executive Simon Loopuit says, ‘Our approach to the grant was not just [about] the money. An additional benefit was that it provided you with an opportunity to collaborate with another company where you might otherwise not have had the chance. It’s a super opportunity to validate that you’ve got a good line of R&D to pursue.’
To apply for the grant, Loopuit had to put together a summary of VoxGen’s objectives, which were scrutinised by the TSB. The Board assessed the proposal on the relevance and innovative nature of the technology and the commercial application. After placing VoxGen on a shortlist of the best candidates, Loopuit was invited to put forward a more detailed proposal of his plans for the project.
Regular competitions for funding of collaborative R&D projects have been held by the Technology Strategy Board since 2004, and by June 2007 a portfolio of over 600 projects was being supported with a combined business and government investment in excess of £1 billion.