The government has announced a new £3 million pot for those responsible for keeping the UK’s regulations up to speed with the pace of innovation.

This is a important acknowledgement that the speed of innovation can be severely hampered by outdated or cumbersome regulation. Anyone engaged in R&D know this all too well.

Just like every other part of business this area needs investment so that our regulators can work to their highest potential with our business innovators.

Who is The Regulators’ Pioneer Fund for?

Local authorities and other regulators can apply for a cut of this £3 mllion fund. It’s the first time that local authorities are included so that innovations can also be tested locally. Given how much regulation is done by local authorities, like Trading Standards and some licencing, this makes total sense.

Your application can be for a maximum of £200,000 and the project must run for at least six months, ending by 31st March 2022.

Why is the government setting up this fund for regulatory bodies?

Lord Callanan, the Business Minister, said:“As we look to build back better from the pandemic and make the most of opportunities as an independent nation, we want to ensure our dreamers and disruptors can continue to thrive and are not held back by needless red tape.“This £3 million Regulators’ Pioneer Fund will help unleash innovation in every corner of the UK by ensuring our rules and regulations keep up with the rate of technological change driven by our brilliant businesses.”

An HMRC press release explains further:

“The fund is part of wider government work on regulation. The Chancellor is chairing a new Better Regulation Committee at the heart of the government, to drive an ambitious regulatory reform agenda and ensure the UK’s regulatory framework is updated to enable this innovation.”

It’s also part of the government’s stated commitment to drive UK innovation and be a world-leader in science and technology. Regulation should not become a roadblock to solving problems with new products or services.

What sort of projects win the money?

Rather vaguely, the competition rules state that: “Projects must be innovative and reflect a research, learning and experimentation approach to regulation.”

It’s all about regulations encouraging business innovation. As this is the second round of funding, we’ve got a couple of examples of previously successful applicants.

  • £1million for the Civil Aviation Authority’s ‘regulatory lab’. This is intended to remove barriers in legislation by several agencies co-operating to promote relevant innovations. For example, flying taxis.
  • £700,000 for Medicines and Healthcare Products Regulatory Agency specifically to create synthetic datasets. These will become part of medical innovations that combat cardiovascular disease and COVID-19.

You’ve got until 15th July to get your application in.

Jamie Smith