A £200m funding pot to support innovation and a major investment programme for schools and further education are among new measures announced by Government as part of the Covid-19 recovery.
Applications for the Sustainable Innovation Fund, delivered through Innovate UK, are open today for businesses impacted by the pandemic who require additional funding to keep their innovation projects afloat.
The funding can be used to develop a range of sustainable, low carbon and green ideas and new technologies in areas such as energy efficiency, medical technology, public transport and smart sustainability ideas.
A major capital investment programme for schools and further education has also been announced.
The rebuilding programme will start in 2020-21 with the first 50 projects, supported by over £1bn in funding.
An additional £560m and £200m will be provided to schools and FE colleges respectively for repairs and upgrades this year. Further details of the new, multi-wave 10-year construction programme will be set out at the next Spending Review.
As well as investing in education, the Government wants to ensure premises are greener and help hit sustainability targets, as well as focusing on modern construction methods to create highly-skilled jobs and boost the construction sector.
Henrietta Brealey, director of policy and strategic relationships at Greater Birmingham Chambers of Commerce, said:
The Government has a clear interest in rebuilding a greener economy post-Covid-19 and the schools and FE capital investment programme and the Sustainable Innovation Fund are two more steps in this direction.
“They are welcome investments in the future for young people, businesses and the environment.
“This has been an incredibly challenging time for the education sector and restoring it to a strong footing in terms of physical premises is critical, alongside the broader measures to help young people catch up on the curriculum announced earlier this month.
“FE colleges have been particularly hit hard by Covid-19 and the significant fall in apprenticeship starts and other employer led training activity over the lockdown period.
“Moving forwards, we hope to see the Government take steps to restore employer confidence in investing in training at the forthcoming fiscal event.
“We also hope to see a continued recognition of the vital roles that both schools and further education play in educating young people and preparing them for the world of work and the ongoing role FE plays in lifelong learning and reskilling the workforce.”
“A growing body of research indicates that Covid-19 has had a disproportionate impact on young people, from disrupting education to jobs losses and career prospects.”