Government launches £8m initiative to boost high streets

Out-Law News | 13 Jan 2014 | 2:11 pm | 1 min. read

An £8 million competition under which businesses can be awarded funds to trial innovative technology to tackle the challenges facing the UK's high streets was announced on Friday by Science and Universities Minister David Willetts. 

The competition, which opened today, will be run by the Technology Strategy Board. It seeks innovative solutions to boost high streets by exploring new approaches to retailing services, logistics, travel and traffic.

Under phase one of the competition, up to £2m will be made available for feasibility studies. A further £6m will be made available during phase two to allow further development of successful phase one projects. A development contract of up to £100,000 will be awarded to successful applicants in phase one and up to £1.2m in phase two.

The competition is part of the Government's Small Business Research Initiative programme which provides opportunities for innovative companies to take advantage of public sector procurement to solve specific problems.

"Technology plays a vital role in people’s everyday lives and has the ability to influence our movements and shopping habits," said Willetts in a statement. "By developing innovations to regenerate the retail sector we will be able to breathe new life into the UK’s high streets."

"This competition will encourage exciting new developments that could change the way business is done across our high streets. Giving shoppers and businesses real time information that they can use to their advantage will make a real difference in helping to boost the UK economy," he said.

"Britain’s shopping culture is changing with online shopping pushing town centres to evolve and exploit new technology to prosper and attract people to their local high street," said High Streets Minister Brandon Lewis.

"This Government is committed to supporting high streets and this competition will challenge them to come up with exciting and innovative ways to be at the forefront of change. It builds on the £1 billion support package of new tax breaks for shops and sensible changes to planning and parking rules. That investment combined with strong local leadership can help high streets remain at the heart of communities for decades to come," Lewis added.

The competition is open for registrations until 26 February and applications for phase one can be made until 5 March.