Dean Cook, Director of Place and Levelling up at Innovate UK

A trailblazing pilot programme is making waves in Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands. Led by Innovate UK on behalf of UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and the Department for Science, Innovation and Technology (DSIT), the Innovation Accelerator programme, which injected £100 million into 26 high-potential projects, is proving to be a game-changer as the projects reach their halfway mark, and are set to continue until March 2025.

The research and development (R&D) projects are already attracting significant private investment, catalysing regional economic growth, and laying strong foundations for tomorrow’s technologies.

The three high-potential city regions of Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands were chosen by the UK Government as pilots in recognition of their strong R&D institutions, diverse economies and robust local governance.

The Innovation Accelerator programme takes a new, co-creation approach to investment and seeks to bridge the gap between national strategies and locally empowered decision-making and insights. The 26 projects were selected last year by partnerships of local government, businesses and R&D institutions in each city region, working closely with Innovate UK.


Highlights include;

Glasgow City Region: Following a £7.5 million investment from the Innovation Accelerator programme, the ‘Modular chemical robot farms for chemical manufacturing’ project, led by Chemify Limited, has raised £28 million in funding from private investors. Chemify has also secured a new partnership to apply ground-breaking chemistry AI-robotics to accelerate the discovery of non-addictive opioids.

Greater Manchester: The ‘Future Homes’ project, led by the University of Salford, received £3.54 million to test innovative technologies for use in homes from 2025. Their test facility, Energy House 2.0, is the largest of its type in the world and its climatic chambers can accommodate up to four full sized homes and subject them to temperatures ranging from -20⁰C to 40⁰C, including rain, snow and wind. The project is also showing how low-carbon homes can be delivered at scale in the UK.

West Midlands: The ‘Biochar CleanTech Accelerator’ project received £1.8 million to expand research facilities at Aston University, aiming to develop commercial orders worth £200 million of low carbon products and create hundreds of jobs for the West Midlands economy. Their innovative technology is to transform organic material such as sawdust or fallen trees into commercially valuable bioproducts, including Biochar, a sustainable form of charcoal which can be used as a soil and plant growth enhancer.

Andrew Griffith, Minister of State for Science Research and Innovation, Department for Science, Innovation and Technology, said:

“The Innovation Accelerator programme is showing the power of local collaboration, in capitalising on regional strengths to unleash groundbreaking innovation, from advances in healthcare to solutions to climate change.

“At the same time, these promising pilots in Glasgow City Region, Greater Manchester and the West Midlands are already pulling in millions of pounds in private investment, which is key to levelling-up the UK and bolstering local economies.”

Dean Cook, Director of Place and Levelling up at Innovate UK added: 

“This unique pilot has supported three dynamic clusters to innovate at pace and in a way never seen before, fostering co-creation between business, academia and national and local Government.  

“The Innovation Accelerator programme aims to demonstrate how partnership between a city region and the UK Government provides synergy and can strengthen innovation clusters as well as catalyse strong local growth. Local leadership has tremendous knowledge on their R&D strengths and how to develop them, and Innovate UK can connect these local strengths into national and global opportunities. Learnings from the pilot programme are already feeding into how we evolve Innovate UK’s broader range of support for business, driving forward the UK as an outstanding place to innovate.”

The Innovation Accelerator pilot runs until March 2025 and results on the full impacts of the programme will be shared later. For more information, visit the Innovation Accelerator Programme website. Innovate UK remains committed to pioneering solutions that strengthen the UK’s position in the global innovation landscape.