§ Albert Owen
To ask the Secretary of State for Trade and Industry if she will make a statement on steps she has taken to encourage small businesses to take up research and development grants in the United Kingdom. 
§ Nigel Griffiths
Following the review of its business support the Department introduced Grant for Research and Development in England in June 2003 to build upon the success of the popular Smart scheme. For each category of grant the maximum amount available was increased in the transition to the new product. In the year April 2003 to March 2004 over 900 individuals and small and medium sized businesses were offered grants to help with the costs of researching and developing new, technologically innovative products and processes. The popularity of the grants has increased in each of the last three.
We have also made it easier for businesses to access all DTI business support. We have replaced the confusing array of schemes with a small suite of products, produced clear marketing brochures including one on succeeding through innovation, put in place the Business Support Directory to help customers identify the most appropriate forms of support and are building the Business Link brand to enhance its position as an easy to use gateway to useful information, analysis, advice and support.
The Scottish Executive, Welsh Development Agency and Invest Northern Ireland are responsible for their own Smart and Spur schemes.1682W