The Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI) is a well-established process to connect public sector challenges with innovative ideas from industry, supporting companies to generate economic growth and enabling improvement in achieving government objectives.
SBRI provides innovative solutions to challenges faced by the public sector, leading to better public services and improved efficiency and effectiveness. It generates new business opportunities for companies, provides small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) a route to market for their ideas and bridges the seed funding gap experienced by many early-stage companies. It supports economic growth and enables the development of innovative products and services through the public procurement of research and development (R&D).
Businesses with innovative ideas can find it difficult and confusing to engage with the public sector. SBRI offers excellent opportunities for businesses, especially early-stage businesses and small and medium-sized enterprises, to develop and demonstrate technology to public bodies acting as the lead customer. For example:
Protecting nuclear decommissioning operators
Sellafield Ltd will invest up to £850,000 excluding VAT in innovative projects that will better equip and support nuclear decommissioning operators working in hazardous environments.
The aim of this competition is to enable operators to carry out tasks safer, quicker and cheaper while being more comfortable in their working environment. The proposal should be an integrated solution that solves or alleviates challenges for people operating in radioactive environments.
Higher education open data, digital tools for prospective students
The Department for Education (DfE) is looking for ideas for creating free, accessible, commercially sustainable and innovative digital tools to ensure prospective students have access to data about the outcomes of subjects and Higher Education providers.
A total of up to £125,000, including VAT, is allocated to phase 1 of the competition and a total fund of up to £300,000, including VAT, for Phase 2.
Smart waste tracking data collection, storage and reporting services
Organisations can apply for a share of up to £400,000 for this competition. Up to £80,000 is available per organisation to develop a new digital solution to help track waste from source through treatment to end destination.
Phase 1 is for a feasibility study resulting in a technical and commercial specification and detailed design package for a digital solution. Phase 2 for research and development contracts, prototype development and testing resulting in prototype installation to test functionality.
“SBRI is essentially a procurement of services from R&D led businesses by the public sector. Although often fairly niche, it is 100% funded and successful applicants will receive not only grant funding but also a lead customer for their innovative solutions while retaining their intellectual property rights. Furthermore, successful applicants will receive a contract for the full cost of demonstrating the feasibility of their technology and the offer of subsequent funding for prototype development.”