If you are looking to scale-up an idea, develop a cutting-edge product, or grow the UK economy with new technologies, then an innovation grant might be for you. Unlike a business or research loan, you aren’t expected to pay back the funds you are awarded in a grant. However, you will you have to meet specific criteria to be eligible, and may have to produce reports reflecting on your progress and outcomes.
There is plenty of funding out there, but you have to know where to look. We have rounded up some of the best innovation grants in the UK right now. To ensure you submit a competitive application and properly understand the strings attached, we recommend you do thorough research on each grant before applying.
While some projects are specific, such as funding around Hydrogen Transport, Innovate UK also offer Error! Hyperlink reference not valid. for ‘ambitious disruptive R&D projects with a high potential for commercial success’. Here SMEs can apply for grants for projects that will significantly improve the UK economy. Funding is not sector-specific, and previous recipients have developed projects covering low-carbon energy, robotics and micro-chips.
Academic institutions can also apply for a Knowledge Transfer Partnership grant, which funds innovative projects that facilitate collaboration between industry and academics. If you are working in Research and Development in STEM, you may also be eligible for the government’s R&D Corporation Tax relief.
Aside from centralised government grants, it is always worth seeing what funding is available in your local area, particularly with local authorities implementing much of the government’s coronavirus support package.
Turning specifically towards innovation, the Local Enterprise Partnership in England offers funding through its 38 hubs of public and private sector partnerships (funding works differently across the devolved nations of Scotland, Wales and Northern Ireland – this article has a useful breakdown of grants in these countries). Each hub, based in a county or region, offers support for innovation, social enterprise, business growth and more. For example, OxLep, Oxfordshire’s Local Enterprise Partnership, is currently funding an Innovation for Business Support programme.
Eureka Programmes and UKRI
While the UK has left the European Union, we are still involved in some European-wide funding projects, including the Eureka Eurostars innovation grants and network projects. Similar to the Innovate UK programme, these grants are targeted at SMEs wanting to collaborate on R&D projects that create innovative products, processes or services for commercialisation. Additional project partners can be SMEs, universities and research centres.
The Eureka network projects offers a flexible funding programme with minimal criteria, aimed at supporting innovative collaboration and R&D across the continent. Applicants also have the freedom to design their own proposal and consortium. In the UK, our partner body is UK Research and Innovation (UKRI), whose new website offers extensive guidance on grant funding. Their funding finder tool is particularly useful and pulls in data from multiple organisations.
Need help with grant applications?
Now you know where to find promising grant opportunities, you’ll be thinking about how to write a strong application and best collaborate with innovative academic experts. Prolancer connects Academia and Industry to work together on leading-edge research and development projects, grant applications and consultancy services.