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Business innovation: what funding can you get

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Business innovation: what funding can you get

Guidance for business and academic organisations on Innovate UK's funding competitions to test ideas and develop innovative products and services.

Business innovation: what funding can you get

If you want to develop an innovative product, process or service, you may be able to get funding of between £25,000 and £10 million.

Innovate UK runs grant funding competitions that can help you develop your idea and make it successful. They are open to innovation projects led by a UK-based business or research and technology organisation, with funding awarded to the winners.

We also offer other forms of funding, including a pilot programme of innovation loans. Eligible small to medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to carry out late-stage innovation projects could borrow between £100,000 and £1 million.

The organisations we fund

You can apply for funding if you are a UK-based business. All kinds of businesses are eligible for funding – from start ups and new micro companies to large multi-nationals.

The specific criteria and eligibility will be outlined in the scope of the competition for which you want to apply.

The projects we fund

Innovate UK funding is for the advancement of innovative ideas only.

You can apply for funding if you want to do one or more of the following:

  • to test the feasibility of your idea and make sure it will work
  • create a new product, process or service, or improve an existing one, through research and development
  • work with other businesses or research organisations on collaborative innovation projects

Depending on the competition, you may work alone on your project, or form a consortium.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Through this fund, the government is bringing world-class research and businesses together to take on the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.

The challenges are aligned with the 4 grand challenges named in the Industrial Strategy. New challenges and funding opportunities are announced intermittently.

Open programme

The open programme supports high-quality innovation from any business, in any area of the UK economy. It supports innovation at various stages. Applications can be from any technology base or sector.

We run several rounds of open funding competitions throughout the year.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships

You can get funding to bring in new knowledge and expertise through a Knowledge Transfer Partnership. Taking part will allow you to work with an academic organisation and a highly-qualified graduate to innovate within your business.

You can apply if you are a business, public or third sector organisation.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

Through SBRI, you can apply for funded contracts with government organisations to develop their innovative ideas. Public sector organistions that have successfully run SBRIs include the NHS, Ministry of Defence and the Department for Energy & Climate Change.

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

The ICURe pilot programme funds research teams to accelerate the time it takes to get ideas out of the lab and to commercialisation. If you’re a start-up that has emerged through the programme, you could get funding to help you establish your business and support future growth.

Biomedical Catalyst

The Biomedical Catalyst funds businesses and researchers to test and develop innovative health and care projects.

It supports the acceleration and scale up of ideas that prevent and manage dieases, support better detection and diagnosis and create tailored treatments that improve patient outcomes.

The programme is run by Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council.

Energy Catalyst

This programme offers funding to UK businesses and researchers to develop ideas for tackling the global need for clean, affordable and secure energy. It funds projects from early-stage through to commercialsation to quickly bring innovative new energy solutions to market.

The programme is run by Innovate UK with co-funding from partners including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Department for International Development and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Details about each competition and the technical scope are published here: Innovation Funding Service.