Overview

The Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) will work with Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, to invest up to £2 million in projects.

In this competition Innovate UK will fund trials which test different approaches to encouraging micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) to adopt existing technologies. These must support business and administrative functions, such as payment practices, accountancy and human resources.

This first phase is for expressions of interest (EoI). EoI submissions will be assessed by a panel consisting of BEIS, the Innovation Growth Lab (IGL) based at Nesta, and Innovate UK.

If your EoI is successful, you will be invited to submit an application for the full phase.

Scope

The aim of the Business Basics Fund is to test the most effective ways of encouraging SMEs to adopt existing technologies that are proven to boost productivity.

In this competition Innovate UK will fund trials which test different approaches to encouraging SMEs to adopt existing technologies that are associated with productivity improvements.

Your proposal must focus on technologies which support business and administrative functions, such as payment practices, accountancy and human resources. Examples of the types of technologies in scope include one or more of the following:

  • accountancy software
  • e-commerce transactions?
  • payment technologies, such as e-invoicing
  • cloud based computing?
  • customer relationship management (CRM) software?
  • supply chain management (SCM) software?
  • HR management systems (HRM) software?
  • enterprise resource planning (ERP) software (which can include CRM, SCM, HRM, finance, purchasing and so on)?

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • how your approach intends encourage more SMEs to use the technologies
  • that your project has potential to be effectively scaled
  • that your project is innovative and will add to the evidence base

Proposals that focus one or more of the following are welcome:

  • adoption of technologies to tackle late payments
  • improving awareness of relevant technologies
  • employee engagement to build firms’ confidence of how technology can be applied in their business, such as digital skills
  • management practices as enablers in encouraging technology adoption
  • facilitation of advice and ways to encourage adoption through trusted advisors, supply chains, informal peer-to-peer networks and so on
  • comparison of lower cost interventions can deliver similar benefits to more intensive support, particularly current business support activities
  • exploring issues facing firms with specific characteristics, such as family run firms

Exclusions

Innovate UK will not fund projects that:

  • focus on developing new technology or software
  • do not focus on areas that are applicable to the majority of SMEs
  • do not address the target audience of mid to low productivity SMEs
  • do not generate robust evidence
  • do not align with the Business Basics Fund objectives

Business Led Trials

To lead a project or work alone, your organisation must:

  • be a UK based business of any size
  • claim funding

Projects involving diverse organisations are welcomed. To work with the lead organisation and receive funding you must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not for profit company, public sector organisation or RTO
  • have a legal entity

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 70% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 60% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 50% if you are a large business

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:

  • up to 45% if you are a micro or small business
  • up to 35% if you are a medium-sized business
  • up to 25% if you are a large business

Research organisations, charities, not for profit companies and public sector organisations can receive funding of 100% of their eligible project costs providing they do not intend to engage in economic activity as a result of the proposed project. For universities, this equates to 80% of full economic costs (FEC).

Non-Business Led Trials

To lead a project or work alone, your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered public sector organisation, university or research and technology organisation (RTO), charity or not for profit company
  • claim funding

Projects involving diverse organisations are welcomed. To work with the lead organisation and receive funding you must:

  • be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not for profit company, public sector organisation or RTO
  • have a legal entity

You can receive funding of 100% of your eligible project costs. For universities, this equates to 80% of full economic costs (FEC).

Funding Costs

There is up to £2 million allocated to fund projects in this competition.

Your project’s total eligible costs can be up to £400,000.

You must carry out your project work in England only.

Projects must start on 1 June 2020 and end by 28 February 2022 and can last up to 20 months.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding, for example non-UK businesses. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs.

Your final report must be submitted before the end of your project. You must share project data with BEIS at the end of your project so it can carry out evaluation activity, such as an evaluation of the longer-term impact.

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