The Cardiff Capital Region £50M Innovation Investment Capital (IIC) fund was launched in November 2022 to help SMEs in many different sectors realise the potential of innovation.
But what is ‘innovation’? And what sort of scale-up ideas qualify for the £2M-£7M investments provided by the IIC?
In essence, innovation is any new thinking or practice that improves a product, a service, a method or an approach.
And it’s certainly not all about technology. For every radical technological breakthrough that changes the world, there are countless other examples of new thinking that makes small but vital improvements, in many different ways.
So the IIC is open to wide-ranging innovations – from an incremental process improvement that leads to greater productivity, to a new method or material that decreases waste, or a novel idea that makes a community a better place to live, or the world a happier place to be.
And that means there are at least four dimensions of innovation that could put an SME in the frame for an IIC investment in the CCR …
What’s your Innovation called?
The word ‘innovation’ usually conjures up images of incredible ground breaking ideas that catapult the world into a new era.
But around 70% of innovation is all about making small scale improvements that add or sustain value to existing products, services and processes – such as adding a new service feature, or developing an extension to a product line.
The manufacturing, engineering and service industries of South East Wales are awash with examples of this so-called incremental innovation – from the product enhancements of Gwalia Healthcare in Pontypridd, and product line extensions of Pulse Plastics in Ebbw Vale, to the fast-expanding range of herbs and vegetables being grown by Micro Acres Wales’ urban farm in Church Village, and the new ranges of ‘climate positive’ children’s clothing being created by Easterkins in Blaenrhondda.
And the Innovations in our Region certainly don’t stop with the incremental.
CCR enterprises are also significant players in the disruptive innovations that create whole new ways of doing things – such as Sonovate’s development of a gig-economy platform that is changing the way the world works, Creo Medical’s design and manufacture of robotic surgery devices, and the remarkable Kontroltek industrial repair company, which is leading the way in repurposing manufacturing equipment, to combat overconsumption.
Innovating together, to (sometimes) change the world …
There’s also the phenomenon of the adjacent innovation which happens when a critical mass of similarly skilled people are concentrated in a relatively small space.
CCR’s world-first Compound Semiconductor Sector is driven by adjacent innovation, powering new features and formats in sectors as diverse as automotive and telecoms – and that process of osmosis will increasingly be seen in other priority CCR sectors, such as the cyber, fintech, medtech and media/creative industries that are putting South East Wales on the global innovation map.
All of which begs a big question. Could South East Wales even be a place of radical innovation – the type of revolutionary invention that brought us the wheel, the washing machine and the personal computer?
Some would answer ‘yes’ to that question, as right now there are a number of incredible innovations in South East Wales with the potential to radically affect the way we live on earth – from Riversimple’s creation of a hydrogen-powered emission-free car and a circular economy that people can subscribe to; through to Space Forge, which has the vision of creating the next industrial revolution in space.
So much innovation … and so many innovations to potentially invest in. Which is why the CCR IIC fund, run by PwC and Capricorn Fund Managers, welcomes applications from high-growth, high-performing SMEs in such a wide range of sectors.
Find out if your innovation could fly in the Cardiff Capital Region, through the Innovation Investment Capital fund – go to: www.cardiffinnovationinvestment.com
[Gwalia Image from Business News Wales]