West Midlands Innovation Accelerator opens for business
The official launch of a new £33 million initiative aimed at supercharging innovation throughout the West Midlands and enhancing the region’s research and development capabilities has taken place. Known as the West Midlands Innovation Accelerator, this initiative now invites businesses to tap into the range of support and funding opportunities available to nurture ideas that can further solidify the region’s leading role in the UK’s innovation landscape.
Funded through a share of a £100 million fund established by the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology and administered by Innovate UK in collaboration with West Midlands leadership, this funding will empower businesses to create new products, processes, and services that can stimulate commercial growth and investment. The program will emphasise health and medical technology, clean technology and other specialised sectors.
The launch event, hosted at Birmingham City University’s STEAMhouse innovation centre in Birmingham city centre, unveiled two active funding streams within the Innovation Accelerator, both seeking businesses to partner with.
The first is the inaugural round of the Clean Futures Accelerator, offering grants of up to £50,000, along with expert guidance, to businesses with ideas aimed at promoting eco-friendly transportation. This initiative, led by Connected Places Catapult in collaboration with the Black Country Innovative Manufacturing Organisation and Coventry University, aims to harness the region’s rich legacy in transport manufacturing, aligning with the West Midlands Plan for Growth to establish the area as a hub for the Green Industrial Revolution.
The second stream is the Biochar CleanTech Accelerator, established by Aston University and local industry partners to develop technology that converts organic materials into commercially valuable products. This includes transforming waste products such as sawdust, diseased trees, and dried chicken litter into sustainable bioproducts.
Additionally, the West Midlands Innovation Programme introduced the AI and Future Tech Forum, in partnership with Tech WM, to provide local businesses with education and guidance on adopting and benefiting from emerging and disruptive technologies.
Andy Street, mayor of the West Midlands and chair of the WMCA, said: “Innovation is central to one of my key Mayoral missions to restore our status as the fastest growing region outside of London. The regional portfolio of projects at this event is a testament to that mission and looks to fulfil our ambitions set out in the West Midlands Plan for Growth – a roadmap to unlocking hundreds of thousands of new jobs and to becoming the home of major global companies in this decade.
“I encourage all businesses interested in new solutions around health, medical and clean technologies to come and talk to the Innovator Accelerator teams and help make their ideas a reality, thanks to this new funding.”