I've won a £3,000 innovation voucher from the North-West Development Agency (NWDA). With this voucher I submit what professional work I need done to the NWDA, they then send out my request to all the businesses affiliated to them and these businesses decide whether to bid for my project.
I now have two companies competing for my project (which is very top-secret at the moment... but I can let you know that it is related to fashion and the internet... and innovation). I am currently communicating with these companies, describing the requirements of my project in detail and looking to see which one of the two is most likely to do a better job.
So, if you have just started up your business and want to develop some innovative idea, consider applying for the next round of vouchers, presumably near the end of the year. You can go for the £3,000 option as I have, or if you need a bit more money, they have a £10,000 voucher where you commit £3,000 and they give you the other £7,000.
Innovation... a word which sits comfortably in the top 10 of my business vocabulary.