ADS Advance – Aerospace firms dominate UK Government innovation funding

New research reveals four of the top five recipients receiving the most funding from the UK Government’s innovation agency (Innovate UK) are in the aerospace industry.

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New research reveals four of the top five recipients receiving the most funding from the UK Government’s innovation agency (Innovate UK) are in the aerospace industry.

This comes following the recent government announcement of a £273 million investment into revolutionizing the UK’s aerospace innovation technologies: it is clear that the industry’s positive impact on the UK economy is highly valued.

The Innovate UK Impact Report – conducted by intellectual property services and R&D tax credit experts GovGrant – analyzed publicly available data on ‘the UK’s national innovation agency’ Innovate UK*. It found that the global aerospace manufacturing giant Rolls-Royce PLC has been awarded the most innovation funding of any UK company over the last 18 years, having received £689 million in grants by Innovate UK, equivalent to £38.2 million each year.

This is over four times more than any other company has received for their innovation projects, and accounts for 7% of all funding awarded by Innovate UK.

Other aerospace companies ranking in the top five for receiving the most investment from Innovate UK over the last include Airbus Operations, GKN Aerospace Service and Airbus UK.

Neil Fraser, Director of Defense & Space Programs at NSSLGlobal: “The UK space industry supports over 45,000 jobs and brings in more than £15bn to the economy. Innovation funding is critical to help generate new technology and support ideas in this vital industry. The UK Space Agency, Innovate UK and the industry work together to make the best use of public funding, which is usually “matched” by companies. Investment also helps the UK play important roles within international space agencies, including NASA and the European Space Agency.

“Innovation and collaboration is critical in several key areas. For example, Rolls Royce is partnered with Reaction Engines, who are developing high-speed aircraft propulsion systems, including for spacecraft. While programs primed by innovation funding, such as UK Launch – with spaceports in Cornwall and Scotland – are bringing a whole new capability and much investment to the UK.

“It is vital that the UK continues to invest across multiple aerospace companies in key sectors – to support national security and critical services, whilst enabling economic growth and contributing to net zero targets.”

Luke Hamm, CEO at GovGrant, said: “Rolls-Royce is a compelling success story and it highlights the vital role that innovation funding plays in supporting local economies, and could contribute to the wider ‘levelling up’ agenda if targeted correctly. Innovation awards for Rolls-Royce are clearly contributing to the wider UK economy by financing training academies, filling the country’s talent pool with highly skilled people.

“It’s extraordinary that Rolls-Royce PLC has received 11.73% of all Innovate UK funding to commercial entities, which is a huge sum to be awarded to one company. This either underlines the importance of collaboration and the role large organizations play in our innovation economy, or brings into question whether the funding process is a level playing field for smaller businesses. However, I’m sure there are instances of SMEs local to Rolls-Royce locations – and collaborators across the UK – who experience a trickle-down effect from this funding.”

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