Wales is failing to claim its fair share of government innovation funding — settling for 75% less than some parts of the UK, a study by innovation funding specialist Catax shows.
Businesses across the UK have enjoyed £12.3bn of grant awards from government innovation agency, Innovate UK, since 2003.
However, in that time, Welsh businesses have received less grant cash than any other region except the North West and Northern Ireland, when adjusted for business population.
Companies in Wales have received the equivalent of £1,623 per business, while the North East has come out on top, netting four times that amount — the equivalent of £6,504 per company. Total grant funding nationally has equalled £2,563 per business2 — meaning Wales is 36.7% behind the UK average. [see tables below]
Applicants in Wales have been awarded £319million in total. The largest grant in Wales over the last five years was the £51.2million given to the Compound Semiconductor Applications (CSA) Catapult, in Cardiff, which aims to make the UK a global leader in compound semiconductors.
Other regions trailing the national average are North West (£1,039), Northern Ireland (£1,465), the East of England (£1,922), the East Midlands (£2,084) and Yorkshire & Humber (£2,204).
Three highest grant awards in Wales over the past five years
The disparity has improved only slightly in the past five years and is still cause for concern. The North East was still the biggest recipient (£2,586 per business) between 2017 and 2022, while the North West continued to benefit the least (£473 per business).
Wales’ position has improved significantly over the past five years, rising to be the sixth highest recipient at £1,030 per business. It means the gap with the North East — the top performing region — has narrowed, with Wales receiving 60.2% less on a like-for-like basis. Grant funding nationally equalled £1,093 per business over the past five years.
The results of the study serve as a wake-up call to businesses across the UK to ensure they are taking advantage of funding opportunities on offer, as a lack of awareness continues to hold back applications.
Karen Taylor, Group Head of Grants at innovation funding specialist Catax, comments:
“There is great variation in the level of innovation funding being received around the UK but the promising news for Wales is that its businesses are increasingly recognising the grants system. Their efforts to claim Wales’ fair share of grant funding now see it within touching distance of the national average, though these firms still have some way to go before they challenge areas like the North East. Hopefully it can build on this success and encourage even more businesses to seek the innovation funding they need.”
Grants awarded per region, adjusted for business population