[holding answer 20 October 2008]: The Government have taken a number of steps to assist small businesses undertaking research:
From 1 August 2008 the rate of tax relief under the SME R and D tax credits has increased from 150 per cent. to 175 per cent. The employment threshold has also risen from 249 to 449 employees. It is estimated that SMEs will benefit from an additional £80 million as a result;
SBRI is being reformed to deliver technologies to meet the future needs and requirements of Government and other public bodies ahead of commercial procurement, and in doing so, to drive an increase in demand for R and D services. In early-stage, high-technology businesses, supporting them through a critical stage in their development. SBRI is unique in providing 100 per cent. funding of development costs at the crucial stage of prototyping and demonstration, and it is this which makes it potentially valuable for early-stage technology businesses;
Between January and June 2008, 70 small businesses benefited from £5 million of research grants through DIUS’s Grant for Research and Development scheme; and,
DIUS is working with the Technology Strategy Board and regional development agencies to: double the number of Knowledge Transfer Partnerships over the next three years; to introduce a pilot innovation voucher scheme to help 500 smaller businesses collaborate with knowledge institutions; and, to help UK businesses participate in the Eurostars scheme for research performing SMEs.