§ Mr. Henderson
asked the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry what is the time taken to reach decisions on applications for grant aid under the Government's support for innovation scheme announced last summer; and if he will make a statement.
§ Mr. Kenneth Baker
The support for innovation programme was launched in May 1982 bringing together assistance formerly separately available under the product and process development scheme, through the research requirements boards and under other arrangements.
The average time taken between the receipt by the Department of a formal application for assistance and issuing an offer is about four months. The period varies according to the size and complexity of the case, the ability of the applicant to provide the information the Department needs for its appraisal and the pressure on the relevant staff resources.
Project support is offered selectively according to the merits of the case. Before offering assistance the Department needs to be satisfied that the case meets a number of criteria, in paticular that the project is innovative with good prospects of subsequent exploitation and that it would not go ahead in the form proposed without assistance. Procedures for handling cases are kept under review and from time to time changes have been introduced where they will secure improvements in processing while maintaining adequate safeguards on expenditure.
If my hon. Friend is concerned about a particular case perhaps he would care to write to me about it.