I read with interest the recent letter stating that DTI money, in the form of SMART awards, was ready and available for those that apply. I speak from experience as someone who is waiting to hear if my sixth attempt has been successful.
My first application took a few days to put together and probably deserved to fail but more recent attempts have taken weeks of effort. My applications now include detailed project plans, business plans and detailed technical descriptions.
At least three of the proposed systems and designs were commended as being innovative and came high up the list. But coming 13th out of 150 applications when only 12 awards are made does not help. Discussions with my associates have concluded that SMART applications have to have `sex appeal’, for want of a better phrase. If it does not catch the imagination of the awarding board it does not stand a chance. It is also good to have a product that is nearly developed and has the potential of immediate sales.
I also had hopes that Business Links would provide assistance but despite requests to get them involved, I have not even been contacted. I have used Business Links for courses and the odd bit of advice but have come to the conclusion that they are not interested in assisting people like me.
So we are back to the usual problem in the UK. We have the ideas and inventions but not the backers. Engineering innovators are still not being given enough assistance or recognition.
If traditional engineering is moving out of the country we need to fill the vacuum with something other than service industries; or is the plan to turn the UK into a theme park?
In the meantime I can only keep my fingers crossed and hope it is sixth time lucky!
Roger Todd, RST UK