Mersey firms share £1.1m from innovation fund

Another 22 SMEs have secured grants from the Liverpool City Region Future Innovation Fund Pilot with more than £2m now given out since August. Tony McDonough reports

laboratory, technology, innovation, science
The Future Innovation Fund Pilot is backing innovation in the Liverpool city region


More than 30 Liverpool city region SMEs have secured funding from a £3m pot of cash that aims to support firms investing in new innovation.

In August, 14 SMEs from across the region shared a total of £1m from the Future Innovation Fund Pilot. This was established by Liverpool City Region Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram in mid-June.

Now a further 22 SMEs have secured grants in the latest round of funding which offered a total of £1.1m. They are developing digital applications supporting the music and fashion sectors, offering coronavirus testing and vaccination products, and a range of socially trading organisations in areas including urban farming.

One of the recipients, Make Thread, is developing a sustainable social marketplace for fashion designers and creatives. It is addressing issues with “fast fashion” – incorporating process efficiencies to allow scale-up/response to increased demand.

Make Thread co-founder, Sarah O’Brien, said: “We are thrilled to have the support from the Liverpool City Region Combined Authority and its latest contribution to local businesses in their Future Innovation Fund.

“At Make Thread our aim is to combat unsustainability and inaccessibility within fashion by making social and environmental process changes in how it is produced and consumed. The funding will accelerate our mission to digitally scale and optimise the business in creating a sustainable and fairer solution to fashion’s outdated ecosystem, as well as driving exciting opportunities to the LCR.”

Steve Rotheram
Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram is aiming to support new innovation


Other successful applicants include Draw & Code, offering a tech solution for the events industry; Daresbury Proteins which is developing rapid diagnostic antigen testing for coronaviral infections; and CNC Robotics which is enabling SME manufacturers to adopt robotic processes at a lower cost.

The proportion of successful applications from underrepresented groups within the innovation sector has increased from the first round. 38% of successful applications are from female-led organisations, 14% from ethnic minority led organisations and 18% from organisations with leaders who identified as having a disability or impairment.

This compares favourable as against the diversity monitoring information collected from the 140 applicants in this heavily oversubscribed round, which comprised 29% female-led, 14% ethnic minority led and 7% identifying as having a disability or impairment.

Metro Mayor Steve Rotheram added: “The past few months have thrown up challenges for local businesses of a variety and scale that I don’t think any of us could ever have predicted. Local businesses have shown a remarkable ability to change and adapt to these ever-changing circumstances.

“We have moved quickly alongside them, launching the Future Innovation Fund to give them the support that they need to continue to innovate through and, ultimately, survive this difficult period and get our region flourishing again in the future.”

Full list of the latest round of recipients:

Applicant Name Project Description
Draw & Code A cutting edge virtual immersive tech solution which will help the events industry adapt to the ‘new normal’
Future Yard CIC Innovative digital application to help artists starting up in the music industry access mentoring and support
Farm Urban Improving efficiency in vertical farming to help grow sustainable fresh produce in the heart of urban areas
TMM Commercial (t/a The Mind Map) The MindMap is a mental health platform that uses biographical profiling to allow patients to connect with more appropriate counsellors and lead to better health outcomes
GoJoe App Ltd “GoJoe” fitness app incentivises fun, social and team-based exercise using celebrity and professional athlete influencers to drive engagement
Sepsis Limited Rapid point-of-care testing device to diagnose Sepsis, introducing sensor technology to optimise process and reduce cost of manufacturing
Signalise Co-op Limited Digital platform to streamline booking of BSL sign language interpreters driving, in particular, more efficiency in NHS treatment, diagnosis and fewer wasted appointments
Make Thread Ltd Sustainable social marketplace for fashion designers / creatives addressing issues with “fast fashion” – incorporating process efficiencies to allow scale-up/response to increased demand
Damibu Ltd An innovative system which aggregate multiple data streams to provide a digestible resource for the NHS, care services and local authority organisations.
CNC ROBOTICS LTD Repeatable and scalable product/service extension for 4IR robotic  manufacturing processes, which will allow SME manufacturers to adopt at low cost
Daresbury Proteins Ltd Rapid diagnostic antigen testing for coronaviral infections
Mobile GIS Services Ltd (t/a MGISS) Ground-breaking software-as-a- service, which uses satellite data to secure greater efficiency in the management of infrastructure assets
Acorn 2 Oak Innovation Solutions Limited (t/a A|2|O Technology Group) Development of low-cost, lightweight material components for automotive sector
DPRV LTD (t/a DefProc Engineering) Scale-up of “Push to Talk” product designed to reduce loneliness for the elderly or isolated
Nidor Diagnostics Limited Helping healthcare professionals diagnose and monitor disease without the need for patients to undergo invasive endoscopy
Revivocell Limited Rapid screening/testing for COVID-19
ProNetix Ltd (t/a DriverNet) Cloud application to improve efficiency of patient and community transport services funded by local authorities and the NHS
Wellbeing Enterprises CIC Development of a training academy for social prescribing in LCR
IoT Horizon Limited Sensor technology which can be used to monitor the safety and integrity of building insulation materials.
Spin Up Science Ltd A commercially sustainable spin-out accelerator designed to increase the level of research commercialisation within the LCR
NeedleSmart Digital vaccination system and safe disposal methodology for hypodermic needles/mass vaccination programmes
Machfab Engineering Limited This project will transform a traditional machining work space into a state-of-the-art facility for future manufacturing, opening up new markets both locally and nationwide with opportunities to export innovative goods to many sectors such as medical and nuclear.

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