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Since 2007, Innovate UK has invested around £2.5bn to help businesses across the country to innovate, with match funding from industry taking the total value of projects above £4.3bn.

Innovate UK has helped 8,500 organisations create around 70,000 jobs and added an estimated £18bn of value to the UK economy. In the period 2019/2020, Innovate UK received 5,794 applications for grant funding and made 949 awards. £645,886 was awarded in terms of grant funding, 24% of the total amount applied for.

4D Rubber Company Limited Industry Sector: Manufacture of a reusable sterile polymer

4D Rubber Company Limited is a worldwide, market leading manufacturer of natural and synthetic precision latex rubber sheeting and products. The company applied to Innovate UK for grant funding to develop UK manufactured reusable sterile polymer material for use in protective equipment including aprons, gowns, surgical drapes, bed and trolley drapes and mask headbands and diaphragms.

The Covid-19 pandemic has highlighted the opportunity to improve the approach to protective equipment and materials used in the UK healthcare and other sectors. Current PPE and protective materials are largely single use plastic products sourced from geographically remote locations with long supply chains and competitive demands.

The result has been significant challenges to obtain large quantities of protective equipment over a prolonged period of time with associated environmental impacts from shipping and disposal. 4D state that the superior physical properties of the material will enable it to be re-sterilised and reused. This will reduce the total volume of protective equipment required to service the needs of the UK’s and other countries health services.

Reuse of equipment, coupled with UK manufacture, will result in waste and total carbon footprint should reducing significantly in line with the Government’s aim to be carbon neutral and to have zero avoidable waste by 2050 . At the same time a strategic source of material in the UK will be developed underpinning a unique manufacturing facility located within a coalfield regenerated area.

The project funding was for feasibility studies and £73,495 was received.

Polymateria Limited Industry Sector: Plastics

Polymateria Limited is a London based company that is advancing science to help nature deal with plastic pollution. The company applied to Innovate UK for grant funding for a collaborative R&D project that seeks to develop a portfolio of advanced drop-in additive formulations for the manufacture of compostable, biodegradable, cost-effective plastics. In collaboration with ecotoxicology testing experts at Chemex, this project aims to develop the first additive-based biotransforming technology for compostable PP packaging, which will be tested and certified at Chemex’s facilities, as the first UK SME with capabilities to meet EN13432 Standard.

This will offer a breakthrough technology for the plastic packaging sector, simultaneously providing unique expertise to the UK in compostability testing. Polymateria was successful in the application and the project received £420,105.

International Paint Limited Industry Sector: Manufacture of industrial polymers

International Paint Ltd, an AkzoNobel company, is the leading global manufacturer and supplier of Marine, Protective and Yacht coatings. The company applied to Innovate UK for grant funding for a collaborative R&D project where the aim was to develop a unique commercial scale microwave heating system for industrial polymer synthesis which can be retro-fitted to existing commercial reactors, delivering a step-change improvement in both reaction time, process control and volume production.

The application was successful and the project received £618,614 by way of funding.

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