Innovate UK has launched a £20 million competition to boost innovation in the delivery services and transport sectors to help build UK resilience following the coronavirus outbreak.
Grants of up to £50,000 will be available to technology and research-focussed businesses to develop new ways of working and help build resilience in industries such as delivery services, food manufacturing, retail and transport, as well as support people at home in circumstances like those during the coronavirus outbreak.
The fund has been put together by Innovate UK and the Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy (BEIS).
Suggested innovations include new technology allowing retailers to respond better to sudden spikes of consumer demand and improve deliveries across the UK.
Science Minister Amanda Solloway said: “The response of researchers and businesses to the coronavirus outbreak have been remarkable.
“This new investment will support the development of technologies that can help industries, communities and individuals adapt to new ways of working when situations like this, and other incidents, arise.”
The proposals will be reviewed by Innovate UK and then successful projects will begin by June 2020 and will last up to six months, with products and services expected to be available to the public towards the end of this year.
Dr Ian Campbell, executive chair Innovate UK, said: "The COVID-19 situation is not just a health emergency, but also one that affects the economy and society.
"With that in mind, Innovate UK has launched this rapid response competition today seeking smart ideas from innovators.
"These could be proposals to help the distribution of goods, educate children remotely, keep families digitally connected and even new ideas to stream music and entertainment. The UK needs a great national effort and Innovate UK is helping by unleashing the power of innovation for people and businesses in need."