Category Archives: News

Money, Power and People – the Independent Money Alliance Conference. 19-20 October, Glasgow

Reinventing money in the age of austerity.

Book your free place!

19-20 October 2017 Partick Burgh Hall, Glasgow (*scroll down for agenda*)

Join us for two days of talks, discussion, workshops, networking – and socialising! Meet financial activists from the UK and beyond, share learnings, be inspired by the latest innovation and challenge your preconceptions.

A must for anyone involved in the world of local and alternative currencies, as well as anyone interested in challenging the financial status quo, Money, Power and People will feature a mix of inspirational ideas and pragmatic help for local currency practitioners.

Agenda

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Brett Scott is a journalist, campaigner and former derivatives broker. The author of The Heretic’s Guide to Global Finance: Hacking the Future of Money, his CV includes working on tax justice with Action Aid UK, and investigating food markets with the World Development Movement.

Fiona Archbold, Project Manager at Civilised Bank. Fiona started Tusmor to advise and help new banking start-ups and is the only person in the UK that has built two new retail banks, Metrobank and Ivo Bank, and a credit union, the Kensington & Chelsea Credit Union.

Tony Greenham leads the Economy, Enterprise and Manufacturing programme at The RSA. He is a chartered accountant and former investment banker with experience in social and environmental NGOs, including NEF.

Edward Smythe, Positive Money‘s economist, responsible for research. He worked for nine years in asset management as an equity analyst and macro-economist. He has an MA in Economics from Cambridge University including a top-five placed Double-First in microeconomics. More recently, he worked as a senior researcher at Tomorrow’s Company leading their work on the investment chain and a project to financially map the UK economy.

Marloes Nicholls is Innovation Programme Manager at the Finance Innovation Lab – a charity that incubates the people, ideas and movements building a financial system that serves people and planet. An economist by training, Marloes is passionate about finding ways to engage everyone in the future of money and finance. In 2011, she co-founded the campaign Move Your Money UK.

Dr Craig Dalzell is the Head of Research for Common Weal, a Scottish “think-and-do tank” which advocates building a society which places less emphasis on the “Me First” politics of the past several decades and instead builds one which puts “All of Us First”. He holds a Masters degree and a PhD in laser physics and optoelectronics from the University of Strathclyde and runs the economics and politics blog The Common Green.

Diana Onu is a lecturer and researcher at the University of Exeter. She is a psychologist studying people’s economic behaviour, focusing on questions of identity, motivation, and emotions. Much of her work focuses on people’s willingness to cooperate at national level (e.g. by contributing to the tax system, by taking part in social movements), but she has also recently worked with Exeter Pound to look at motivations to participate at local level.

Patrick Harvie is Co-Convenor of the Scottish Green Party and has been an MSP for Glasgow since 2003. He is a member of Holyrood’s Finance and Standards committees.

 

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Join us. Be part of the counter-currency.

 eventbrite-header
 
Please join us at the launch of the

Independent Money Alliance

Wednesday July 19th, 12:30 (for 1pm) til 2pm,
Light refreshments will be provided.
The London School of Economics and Political Science
Houghton Street, London WC2A 2AE

The Robert McKenzie Room
S219 (St Clement’s Building)
Dept of Sociology

Please RSVP to reserve your free place.

What the hell has happened to money?

Most of us haven’t got much – while a few have unimaginable wealth. The government tells us it has run out, while they let corporations off billions in tax. Struggling independent businesses are priced-out of town centres, as big brands fling the stuff at ever-increasing high street rents.

Nobody seems to know where it comes from, and it all too often simply vanishes.

We say enough is enough. Money isn’t working for ordinary people. It’s time we had an intervention.

It’s time for the Independent Money Alliance. 

The Independent Money Alliance is a space for anyone working in the world of alternative money to meet.

From local currencies to alternative payments, time banking to credit unions; co-ops, start-ups, coders, activists if you are involved in exploring the world of financial alternatives, we want to meet you.

And while we might not agree 100% on how to change the system, we all know that system needs to change. The Independent Money Alliance allows us to share our knowledge, skills and experience. To collaborate. To be inspired.

We have the answers within us – and the power – but to unlock it we need to work with each other.

Join us. Be part of the counter-currency.

IN ASSOCIATION WITH

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A Day Out With Brixton Pound

Original article posted on Exeter Pound Blog
http://exeterpound.tumblr.com/post/147847016500/a-day-out-with-brixton-pound

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Photo above: the site of the old shop

On Monday 11th July Mel from Exeter Pound, along with the guys from Birmingham Pound, Good Money CIC and Bristol Pound downed tools and travelled up to London for the day to meet with Tom from Brixton Pound. Tom had invited us all to have a look round their Brixton Pound shop and cash machine and to chat about the other initiatives they are currently involved in.

We met at Brixton Pound’s brand new shop premises on Atlantic Road (London). Tom explained that whilst the previous shop was very close to the heart of Brixton, it wasn’t all that welcoming a place and they hoped that, by making the new venue a ‘pay what you can’ (but only in Brixton Pounds!) café and shop with an open door policy, it’ll become a better hub.

He added that at the beginning, Brixton Pound was driven largely by the belief that the local currency could make a tangible economic impact, but that the team have decided to refocus on their core values and aim to ‘change the conversation’ through successive projects (i.e. Brixton Bonus and the Brixton Fund). These core values include: having fun (and not taking themselves too seriously!); changing the conversation; introducing new ideas; having an open door policy; democracy and activism.

He also said that they realised it was their network of members who are more important than the currency itself.

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Photo above:  Tom tells us about Brixton Pound’s evolving story at their new premises on Atlantic Rd. 

Brixton Pound Projects

Brixton Fund

The fund started with a pledge to make a monthly donation out of the transaction fee pot. They hold events where shortlisted beneficiaries are invited, told they will all receive some part of the award fund and are asked to present their causes to the public. Members of the public in turn are given voting tokens and can put up to 5 in each of five jars representing each cause (similar to the green tokens you get at the checkout in Waitrose). The awards are then distributed according to how many tokens each cause/organisation gets.

The fund, which was set up about a year ago, holds award rounds bi-annually and grants are up to £Br2000, favouring people or organisations who have not yet had access to grant funding.

Brixton Bonus

The Brixton Bonus is registered as a small social lottery with Lambeth council and its purpose is to raise money for the Brixton Fund. It relies on business sponsorship, non-members can play and there are rewards for people who sign up to play regularly. The proceeds are split between Brixton Pound and the Brixton Fund, with Brixton Pound pledging never to take more than 50% for its own development and never more than £3000 a month.

Other initiatives

“Brewster’s millions”

Every year someone wins £Br250 with the condition that they have to spend it all in one day! The winner is accompanied by a photographer as they visit various Brixton Pound businesses trying to spend it.

Individual membership

When people refer a friend to Brixton Pound, they get £Br5 credit in a friend referral scheme.

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Photo above: the Brixton Pound cash machine!

The Brixton Pound Cash Machine

This little gem is something we were particularly excited about seeing! The Brixton Pound cash machine is a vending machine near the entrance to the market, with text explaining what it’s all about written on one side. Tom said it’s been a great conversation starter (falling in line with their core values) and has attracted a fair bit of interest from the media.

Brixton Pound’s plans for the future

Tom explained that Brixton Pound are currently renewing their website and plan to create separate sites for the two key projects, Brixton Bonus and Brixton Fund which have really taken off. They’ve also teamed up with the London Design Festival to set up a competition for people to design Brixton Pound merchandise.

Corporate structure

Brixton Pound was set up in 2011 as a CIC (Community Interest Company, same as Exeter Pound). Their next move is to register the project as a charity.

Thanks for a fun and informative day, Brixton Pound!

Tools for a Fairer Economy – Reflections

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Back in the office now after a whirlwind few days in Liverpool for the Guild’s Tools for a Fairer Economy conference.

This was the second major conference for the Guild, and I had worried that the amazing energy and enthusiasm that had been a feature of our inaugural event in Bristol in 2014, was not going to be repeated. Happily it was, the room was buzzing with conversation throughout the whole two days, and many attendees came up to me afterwards saying how nice and supportive everyone else had been, so a huge thank you to all who came for being so fabulous!

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I planned the event with a specific outcome, this was to widen the scope of the Guild beyond the “transition currencies” model, and in doing so ensure that groups wishing to start new schemes think carefully about what their community needs.

I get many enquiries from groups and individuals around the country saying they want to have a Bristol Pound in their local area, and apart from being flattered my first reaction is to ask why?

The Bristol Pound is not a static project and is developing all the time, and has so far spawned the Prospects Network and the Real Economy to address particular issues. Similarly in the workshops we talked a lot about how the Brixton Pound saw themselves as a community hub project first and a local currency second.

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I concentrated on this theme with my talk about the transition currencies, proposing that they need to be about “People not Economics”. Even if a currency only works on a scale too small to make a significant economic impact (which all UK ones do), then this does not mean it is not successful, and indeed the usage figures should not be the measure of its success. Instead how the currency is situated within a community and how it is used is more important.

I always like to mention how the clunkiness of TXT2PAY helps create conversations in shops, and this theme of design was extended with Nigel Dodd talking about money not being an object but a social relationship and how we needed to warm up our relationship with it.

On Thursday the theme continued with Charlie Waterhouse’s entertaining design talk and Tom Crompton talked about the purpose of a currency to reflect the values of the community that creates it in his workshop and subsequently the blog post here.

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Solidarity and support is also a key feature and Peter North talked about how this was important to many of the South American currencies particularly in Argentina during their economic crisis in the 90s. Bristol Pound has the signature, “People of Bristol”, on all it’s paper pounds and exciting projects like the Brixton Fund directly support local projects.

Working away in the relative calm of the Bristol Pound office, I am heartened to know that there are many others who are sharing my joys and frustration doing this difficult work. I counted twenty different schemes in the room last week, a truly supportive network, with many inspiring stories and experiences.

Thanks to Liverpool Pound for hosting, the venue, food and warm welcome was very much appreciated and I notice this morning that further progress towards a new currency for Liverpool is being made already!

Next stop Birmingham in the Autumn for a smaller more workshop type event, and in the meantime there will be some regular Skype meetings as requested by the lively “what next for the guild” workshop group, who still had plenty of energy last thing on the second day. Looking forward to them already.

Graham Woodruff
Coordinator, Guild of Independent Currencies

Bristol Pound can now be used to pay council tax

From April 1 Bristol residents will be able to use the UK’s first citywide local currency to make council tax payments.

Information about the Bristol Pound  (£Bs)and how to switch payment methods is  included in this year’s council tax bills and booklets, which are currently being delivered to every Bristol household .

The  new initiative is expected to further boost the city’s green credentials by giving Bristolians a chance to switch to £B council tax payments during its year as European Green Capital.

Council tax can be paid in one-off or regular payments (like a standing order) from online Bristol Pound accounts with Bristol Credit Union (BCU),  Bristol’s local, cooperative community bank.

Accounts can be opened online at bristolpound.org/signup or in person at BCU’s offices, Stokes Croft.

George Ferguson, Mayor of Bristol, said: “There are almost half a million Bristol Pounds currently in circulation, with every single one of those notes helping to keep more of our money in the city and, in turn, strengthening our local economy by supporting local businesses.

“The Bristol Pound plays a key role in fostering strong community ties, contributing to a fairer, greener and happier economy, as well as raising Bristol’s profile, particularly during our very special year as European Green Capital. 

“There are now more independent businesses in Bristol than ever before accepting Bristol Pounds both in case and by text to pay, some giving special offers for using it.”

Ciaran Mundy, £B Director, said: “For the first time the people of Bristol have a clear and direct way of giving an imperative to the city council to support local businesses.

“In true Bristol fashion, we are the first UK city where people can pay council tax in a local currency.  If people take it on and start doing it, the whole scheme will scale up significantly.

“This would have a real effect on the economy, supporting locally owned businesses and the communities they are part of.”

Local businesses have been able to pay their business rates and Business Improvement District (BID) Levy in £Bs since the scheme launched in September 2012.

£B119,502 Bristol Pounds were paid to the council in business rates in 2014. Since September 2012 a total of £B680,000 Bristol Pounds has been issued, with  £B460,000 Bristol Pounds currently in circulation. About 800 locally-owned businesses accept the currency.

Alex Poulter, £B Trader member and owner of East Bristol Bakery, said:  “I’ve been waiting for the chance to pay my council tax in Bristol Pounds.

“It’s another great way that I can make sure that  my spending goes to  support my city by doing it with Bristol Pounds.   I’ll make sure to set it up as soon as I get my bill.”

For more information visit www.bristolpound.org.

Free online month-long course on Money and Society

A free online course at Masters-level will enable you to understand the past, present and future role of money in society.

Concerned with the banking system? Bemused or fascinated by bitcoin? Starting a local currency? Whereas most courses on money are intended for people with an economics background or banking future, this course is for people who are interested in understanding money from a social innovation perspective – it prepares the ground for answering how to create a better future by reshaping money and currency.

The course is therefore highly interdisciplinary, drawing upon anthropology, sociology, history and heterodox economics. It is designed by Professor Jem Bendell PhD (IFLAS) and Matthew Slater BD (Community Forge), with additional tutoring by Leander Bindewald MA (IFLAS and NEF) and Stephen DeMeulenaere (Coin Academy).

The MOOC (Massive Online Open Course) starts online on February 16th 2015 and runs for one month, with four lessons:

Lesson One: An introduction to money: functions, forms, and fallacies

Lesson Two: The history of money and its discontents

Lesson Three: The problems with mainstream monetary systems

Lesson Four: Alternatives

Each lesson begins on a Monday, consisting of an audio Powerpoint of two hours (which you can listen to when you want within two days), followed by two hours of personal reading and one hour to prepare a written assignment of not more than 400 words, which must be submitted by that Thursday.

Participants can view and comment on each other’s assignments in the forum, and can interact as they wish, with tutors commenting on assignments in the forum.

Lessons Two and Four are followed by one hour webinars with the tutors, which occur on Saturday mornings at 10am. You need access to a decent broadband connection but do not need any special software to engage in the course. Participants cannot start the MOOC late. To register, send an email to iflas@cumbria.ac.uk and you will receive joining instructions in the first week of February 2015. The next offering of the MOOC will be in quarter three of 2015.

At the end of this MOOC you will be able to:

  • Critically assess views on the form and function of money and currency by drawing from monetary theories
  • Explain theories on how social, economic and environmental problems arise from mainstream monetary systems
  • Explain alternative forms of money and currency and the theories on how they can support better social, economic and environmental outcomes.

Full details here:

http://iflas.blogspot.co.uk/2014/12/money-and-society-mooc.html

 

“Invigorating” Conference launches Guild of Independent Currencies

Seventy delegates representing currency schemes from around the country gathered together in Bristol last week for the UK’s first conference of independent currencies.

From the starting keynote speech by Transition Network founder Rob Hopkins, the conference was buzzing with the excitement of setting up of the Guild of Independent Currencies. An organisation to support this new wave independent currencies inspired by existing schemes in Totnes, Lewes, Brixton and Bristol.

Attendee Professor Joanna Grey wrote “I wanted to let you know how invigorating, fascinating and affirming I found your currency conference.”

The first day also included presentations were made by many of the currency projects who attended, these included Exeter, Cardiff, Taunton, Brixton, Lewes, Southampton, Kingston, Brighton, Grand Union Canal, Liverpool, Totnes and even Madison in Wisconsin.

Also unveiled was the Bristol Pound’s latest project, supported by InnovateUK, to help set up new independent currencies and incorporate them into a supportive network where smaller schemes can work together and exchange between them.

“My feet have not touched the ground since I got back to Alderney (Channel Islands).  The whole Conference from my point of view was an incredible success.  It inspired, it informed and I don’t think there is now any turning back.” said Tony Haywood from Aldernay.

For the second day, delegates participated in a series of practical workshops run by the Bristol Pound team covering various topics related to setting up a new currency.

Graham Woodruff, Technical Director for Bristol Pound who organised the event said “We were all blown away by the enthusiasm of all the attendees, and since the conference closed we are still being contacted every day by new groups springing up in the UK and beyond who want to set up currencies to support their own local businesses and communities.”

The next conference is planned for Autumn next year.

Full details and content from the conference can be found here

 

Would you like your scheme to be featured in a TV documentary?

Claudia MurgMy name is Claudia Murg and I am a TV producer and journalist, working with flagship UK TV production companies, to produce outstanding documentaries for mainstream British television.

I have a strong interest in the subject of local currencies, and I am interested in talking to people/groups of people, who would like to set up their own local currencies.

At this stage, the research stage, we are trying to understand more about the process, the motivations and the various local challenges of setting up a local currency, and what it takes to make it happen.

I will be looking into obtaining funding, once we have a clearer idea of most suitable format for a documentary of this type, and identify a suitable location and contributors.

My colleague Rob Hull and I, will be attending the conference, and will bring a filming camera along, as we have been given permission to film, by Bristol Pound

If you would like to get in touch with Claudia to get further information, email us and we’ll pass your details on.

Totnes Pound Goes Electronic

From October 20th, residents in Totnes will be able pay for local goods and services with electronic Totnes Pounds using their mobile phones, they will also have access to online banking and payment facilities, all in Totnes Pounds. This technology has been supplied by the Bristol Pound as part of a project to enable other towns to start and develop their own local currencies.

Chantelle Norton, from Totnes Pound says “Since the relaunch of the Totnes Pound in May we have seen a resurgence of interest in the local currency with 90% of businesses in the High Street now using them, we are delighted that we now have an electronic version which we will greatly increase its use and benefit to the local independent traders.”

Baroness Jenny Jones joins Councillor Robert Vint on the Totnes Pound stand in Totnes at the Civic Square recently.

Baroness Jenny Jones joins Councillor Robert Vint on the Totnes Pound stand in Totnes at the Civic Square recently.

In Bristol, around 500 business use electronic Bristol Pounds which they use to pay suppliers, local taxes and is a simple way for them to take payments from customers. Having the ability to use the currency online greatly increases the volume of transactions that can be made and there has been over £650,000 worth of Bristol Pounds issued in the last two years. It is hoped Totnes will see similar success.

Graham Woodruff, Technical Director of Bristol Pound CIC says “Other towns and cities in the UK are watching Bristol and learning how a local electronic currency can support independent traders and benefit the community as a whole.”

“We are now able to offer our technology and expertise to other schemes, and especially delighted to be able to help Totnes in this project after being so inspired by the Totnes Pound in our original decision to launch a currency in Bristol.”

This opportunity comes through funding from the UK’s innovation agency, the InnovateUK as a result of a SBRI competition called ‘Re-imagining the High Street’ and means that the Bristol Pound can provide an electronic platform for other local currencies.

Next month, independent currency schemes from around the UK are coming to Bristol for a conference, the first of its kind in the UK, aimed at existing independent currency schemes and any individuals or groups who are thinking of creating one in their local area. This surge of interest will see a number of other towns following the lead from Bristol and Totnes in the coming year.

Ends /

Notes 

Local currencies build local economic resilience by supporting a diverse business community, keeping more money circulating locally, helping to stimulate cross community connections and encouraging people to think about how they spend their money.

The Bristol Pound Community Interest Company has been successful in implementing the UK’s largest complementary currency scheme in Bristol, which was specifically designed to help small businesses increase their turnover and to create a more robust local economy. Website: http://bristolpound.org/

The Bristol Pound is a local currency for Bristol, available to use in paper form or electronically through Bristol Pound accounts. Bristol Pound CIC is solely responsible for paper Bristol Pounds. Bristol Credit Union is responsible for all aspects of the Bristol Pound accounts and electronic payments.

Bristol Credit Union (BCU) is a financial services co-operative providing ethical, local banking services to over 9,500 people across the former Avon county. BCU is a strong, well capitalised Credit Union with over £5.75mn in assets. Bristol Credit Union Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and subscribes to the Financial Ombudsman Service. All eligible savings with Bristol Credit Union, including those held in Bristol Pound accounts, are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

The Guild of Independent Currencies is being launched at a conference held at the Watershed, Bristol on the 3rd and 4th November 2014. Website: http://guildofindependentcurrencies.org

InnovateUK is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the InnovateUK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.

The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector and gain contracts to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping. http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/smallbusinessresearchinitiative.ashx

Guild of Independent Currencies Launches

The success of the Bristol Pound has helped create a surge of interest in local currencies, and so a new initiative, the Guild of Independent Currencies, is being launched to bring together these emerging new currencies into a supportive network.

Enabling this launch will be a conference, the first of its kind in the UK, on 3rd and 4th November 2014 in Bristol, aimed at existing independent currency schemes and any individuals or groups who are thinking of creating one in their local area.

Since the Bristol Pound started, inspired schemes have started to pop up around the UK, places like Cardiff, Bath and Kingston are now seriously considering starting their own, and some like Exeter are well on their way, with plans to launch next year. Existing schemes like the Totnes Pound and Lewes Pounds are re-launching themselves with a new confidence and renewed vigour.

The development of the Guild of Independent Currencies, with the support of InnovateUK, the UK’s innovation agency, will make it as easy as possible for people to launch and operate their own independent currency: through shared technology, best practice and support.

The Guild already has a pilot electronic currency project currently underway in Totnes, details of which will be presented at the conference. This pilot works with the local Totnes Pound to bring online payment and mobile phone payment systems.

Graham Woodruff, Technical Director of Bristol Pound, who is leading the project said: “The Bristol Pound is showing the potential of electronic local currency to support independent traders and we have been approached by many other towns and cities, in the UK and beyond, wanting to set up something similar. This is where the conference and the Guild of Independent Currencies come in, and allowing us to share our knowledge and values to help others set up their own initiatives, and develop a mutually-supportive network of independent currencies.”

Notes:

Local currencies build local economic resilience by supporting a diverse business community, keeping more money circulating locally, helping to stimulate cross community connections and encouraging people to think about how they spend their money.

The Bristol Pound Community Interest Company has been successful in implementing the UK’s largest complementary currency scheme in Bristol, which was specifically designed to help small businesses increase their turnover and to create a more robust local economy. Launched in September 2012, we now have around 650,000 Bristol Pounds in circulation with the numbers increasing each month. More than 750 businesses in Bristol use the scheme. Website:http://bristolpound.org/

The Bristol Pound is a local currency for Bristol, available to use in paper form or electronically through Bristol Pound accounts. Bristol Pound CIC is solely responsible for paper Bristol Pounds. Bristol Credit Union is responsible for all aspects of the Bristol Pound accounts and electronic payments.

Bristol Credit Union (BCU) is a financial services co-operative providing ethical, local banking services to over 9,500 people across the former Avon county. BCU is a strong, well capitalised Credit Union with over £5.75mn in assets. Bristol Credit Union Ltd is authorised by the Prudential Regulation Authority and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority and the Prudential Regulation Authority and subscribes to the Financial Ombudsman Service. All eligible savings with Bristol Credit Union, including those held in Bristol Pound accounts, are covered by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme.

The Guild of Independent Currencies is being launched at a conference held at the Watershed, Bristol on the 3rd and 4th November 2014. Website: http://guildofindependentcurrencies.org

InnovateUK is the UK’s innovation agency. Its goal is to accelerate economic growth by stimulating and supporting business-led innovation. Sponsored by the Department for Business, Innovation and Skills (BIS), the InnovateUK brings together business, research and the public sector, supporting and accelerating the development of innovative products and services to meet market needs, tackle major societal challenges and help build the future economy. For more information please visit www.innovateuk.org.

The SBRI programme uses the power of government procurement to drive innovation. It provides opportunities for innovative companies to engage with the public sector and gain contracts to solve specific problems. Competitions for new technologies and ideas are run on specific topics and aim to engage a broad range of organisations. SBRI enables the public sector to engage with industry during the early stages of development, supporting projects through the stages of feasibility and prototyping. http://www.innovateuk.org/deliveringinnovation/smallbusinessresearchinitiative.ashx