Government launches £8m fund for technology to boost UK high streets

A new competition that aims to fund technological ideas addressing the challenges faced by the UK’s high streets has been announced by Science and Universities minister David Willetts.

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A new competition that aims to fund technological ideas addressing the challenges faced by the UK’s high streets has been announced by Science and Universities minister David Willetts.

It comes as retailers such as John Lewis and Marks & Spencer report strong online performance, while other retailers that remain more dependent on the traditional high street continue to struggle.

The initiative, run by the Technology Strategy Board, encourages businesses to compete for a cut of £8 million of funding to trial innovative technology approaches to retailing, services, logistics, travel and traffic.

“By developing innovations to regenerate the retail sector we will be able to breathe new life into the UK’s high streets,” said Willetts.

“This competition will encourage exciting new developments that could change the way business is done across our high streets. Giving shoppers and businesses real-time information that they can use to their advantage will make a real difference in helping to boost the UK economy.”

Technology Strategy Board chief executive Iain Gray said: “This competition is aimed at encouraging businesses of all sizes to come up with innovations that address key challenges, such as ways we can combine both physical and virtual shopping, or develop real-time parking information.”

Up to £2 million of the funding will be available for feasibility studies in the first phase of the competition, called Re-imagining the high street. The successful projects from these studies will then compete for a further £6 million in phase two.

More information about the funding competition, which opens on 13 January 2014, can be found here. The deadline for registration is noon, 26 February 2014, and the deadline for phase one of the competition is noon, 5 March 2014.

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