Overview

Smart is the new name for Innovate UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused.

Scope

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing, innovative and/or disruptive and ambitious idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure, recruitment delays, etc) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
  • clear, considerable potential to significantly impact the UK economy and/or productivity in a positive way
  • good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions

Innovate UK give preference to applications that demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets.

Proposals from innovation-based businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth or scale-up are welcome.

Where possible, projects should take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions.

Innovate UK will fund innovative research and development (R&D) projects across a variety of technologies, markets and research categories, including:

  • feasibility, including market research
  • industrial research
  • experimental development

Projects can be at different levels of technological maturity, up to but not including commercialisation.

Eligibility

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK based business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your R&D project activity in the UK
  • intend to commercially exploit the project results from or in the UK
  • be an SME if you want to work alone
  • include at least one SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations or charities

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Single applicants must claim funding. If the project is collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding and enter your costs as part of the application.

To collaborate with the lead organisation you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or RTO
  • carry out your R&D project activity in the UK
  • intend to commercially exploit the project results from or in the UK
  • be invited to take part by the lead applicant
  • enter your costs in the Innovation Funding Service

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £25 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your project must start no later than 1st May 2021 and end no later than 31st May 2024.

Your project must follow different rules depending on its duration:

  1. Projects with durations between 6 and 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. They can be single or collaborative projects.
  2. Project durations between 19 months and 36 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. They must be collaborative projects.

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

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum is shared between them.

Exclusions

Innovate UK will not fund proposals that do not:

  • meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • address the size, potential and access to market for the innovation
  • evidence the potential for their idea or concept to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business

 

Interested in applying for this competition?

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Our team are available to discuss your innovative business, your project ideas and how we can help you to write a successful application for this Grant Funding opportunity.

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