Guidance on what help you can get from Innovate UK to innovate and grow your business overseas.
Innovate UK runs a number of initiatives that can help you to access global opportunities and partners. These are open to a range of organisation types and sizes in the UK.
We can help you:
- by funding you to work on global innovation projects
- build relationships with other businesses, research organisations, investors and government
- identify other sources of public and private investment
- understand the laws and legislation of your target market
- de-risk innovation and protect your business when working overseas
Please note, the international research and innovation funding environment is changing rapidly. To find current opportunities with Innovate UK search our Innovation Funding Service.
Horizon 2020 is the largest ever European funding programme for research and innovation. It is making available 79 billion euros until 2020 to fund collaborative projects that ensure Europe is at the heart of world-class science and innovation.
Funding calls are based on 3 areas:
- excellent science
- industrial leadership
- societal challenges
You can apply to run a standard research or demonstration project if you are a:
- registered business
- local authority
- research organisation that has legal standing
The UK government has committed to underwriting payment of Horizon 2020 awards for successful applications that are submitted while the UK remains a member of the EU. This includes when specific projects continue beyond the UK’s departure from the EU.
These competitions are run by Innovate UK to support businesses to scale up and innovate. In recent rounds of the following competitions funding has been provided by the Department for International Development (DFID) for international support.
The Agri-tech Catalyst is a £70 million programme for the agri-tech sector. It is for businesses and researchers to work together to speed and scale up agricultural projects from research through to commercial viability, and embed these innovations in developing countries.
This fund was set up by Innovate UK, DFID and the Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council.
Funding competitions are typically run once a year. Search for funding on the Innovation Funding Service.
The Energy Catalyst programme funds UK businesses and researchers to carry out projects that tackle the global need for clean, affordable and secure energy. It aims to accelerate the development, commercialisation and deployment of new energy solutions.
The programme is run by Innovate UK with co-funding from other department partners.
Internationally, through DFID, the programme looks to fund research and innovation that supports affordable, reliable access to clean energy in developing countries.
Funding competitions are typically run once a year. Search for funding on the Innovation Funding Service.
For any questions about the Catalysts contact our customer support service on 0300 321 4357 or email email@example.com.
Newton Fund competitions
The funding is to:
- engage in new science and innovation opportunities overseas
- work with Newton partner countries to support economic development and social welfare within that country
- create collaborative solutions that benefit all parties involved
There is up to £735 million available for Newton Fund projects between 2014 and 2021. Innovate UK is one of the UK delivery partners of the fund, specifically supporting UK businesses to innovate.
Partnering countries include:
- South Africa
- the Philippines
As more funding is made available we will host new competitions on our Innovation Funding Service. Search ‘Newton Fund’ on our Innovation Funding Service for the latest business opportunities.
The EUREKA Eurostars programme is for UK SMEs who want to take part in collaborative research in Europe to develop new products, processes or services.
There are 2 calls for proposals every year until 2020. You can apply with 2 or more participants from 2 or more Eurostars countries. Only SMEs can lead a project. Innovate UK funds successful UK applicants up to 60% of eligible project costs (equivalent to 360,000 euros per UK project partner). We typically fund 10 to 15 projects per round.
Large businesses or academic organisations can also take part in a Eurostars project but must fund this themselves.
For information on the latest call contact our customer support service at firstname.lastname@example.org or 0300 321 4357.
ERA-NET provides funding opportunities for joint activities that support transnational research and innovation. It enables partners to take on tasks together that they would not have been able to tackle on their own.
No funding is currently available. If this changes we will add details here and you can also search the Innovation Funding Service.
Get information on the programme and find out about any new opportunities by contacting customer support service on 0300 321 4357 or email email@example.com.
Connect to innovation partners
Enterprise Europe Network
Through the Enterprise Europe Network (EEN) - the largest business support network in the world - you can access free specialist help and advice to:
- move into new markets with help from local experts
- access finance and funding from the public and private sectors
- find trusted partners to develop your products or services
- improve how you manage innovation, commercialise your ideas and grow your business
- grow further and scale up
The EEN has offices across the UK and is active in more than 60 countries.
Get more information by visiting the EEN website or contact the team on 0300 123 4587.
Knowledge Transfer Network
The Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN) is Innovate UK’s network partner. It offers sector-focussed, thematic support to businesses to:
- understand and access UK, European and international funding
- connect to other businesses and research organisations to build national and international research and innovation partnerships
- understand the global innovation landscape and take advantage of opportunities for business growth
- accelerate the development and exploitation of innovative ideas to commercialisation
- access private finance for overseas business expansion
- signpost other helpful sources of business support, including the Department for International Trade (DIT), Local Enterprise Partnerships, Growth Hubs, as well as the programmes and organisations mentioned on this page
Horizon 2020 National Contact Points
The team exists to help you on every aspect of the Horizon 2020 European funding programme.
Through your national contact point expert you can get free and impartial advice on:
- choosing the best funding scheme
- administrative procedures and contractual issues
- the application process
- documents that can help you, including forms, guidelines and manuals
- finding a project partner
- your proposal
- liaising with the commission on the scope of projects
More than 40 countries make up the EUREKA network, which supports international collaboration on developing new, innovative products.
As a member of EUREKA, businesses in the UK can:
- get access to skills, expertise and support to deliver projects quickly, for example, help to reach cooperation agreements
- find financial support, including venture capital and loans, public financial aid and tax credits
Innovate UK will take over chairmanship from July 2018.
For more information and advice contact our customer support service on 0300 321 4357 or email firstname.lastname@example.org.
Global business innovation programme
Through the global business innovation programme, we help high-growth UK businesses prepare for and attend overseas missions in order to explore and exploit innovation opportunities. These are countries where we have already laid the groundwork and scoped out the market.
Understanding the needs of a different market and building collaborations can be a barrier to businesses expanding globally.
So, this programme helps businesses to familiarise themselves with and build partnerships and connections in their target country to maximise their chances of success.
It does this by providing a coherent package of support, including access to resources and intelligence, to meet their specific business goals as they scale up. This is split into 3 phases:
- helping businesses get ready for the market
- visiting the market on an innovation mission, where businesses can gain understanding and build, strengthen and exploit connections with peers, investors, government and the research community
- exploiting the opportunity, including ongoing support after the mission to make the most of it
The programme is offered by Innovate UK, working with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office’s UK Science and Innovation Network and DIT. Previous work has targeted Canada, China, South Korea, Japan, Israel and India.
European Institute of Technology Knowledge and Innovation Communities
The innovation communities bring together businesses, research organisations and universities. These communities are a hub for activities such as training and education, innovation projects and business incubation.
There are 8 communities that UK businesses can join. These cover:
- climate change mitigation and adaptation
- the future of information and communication
- sustainable energy
- innovation for healthy living and active ageing
- raw materials including sustainable exploration, extraction, processing, recycling and substitution
- future of food
- added-value manufacturing
- urban mobility
The network of Catapult centres support UK innovation through access to expertise and cutting-edge technical capabilities.
The centres have significant engagement across the world, including European programmes and bilateral initiatives such as those financed through the Newton Fund. They can help UK companies internationalise, while also developing their own capability and attracting investment to the UK.
Past projects have included:
- the Satellite Applications Catapult and UK companies investigating how satellite technology could create a positive socio-economic impact on mining operations in Chile
- Spain’s Technalia and the Offshore Renewable Energy Catapult working together to improve and share offshore renewable testing facilities and infrastructure
- the various urban planning projects and strategies around the world, supported through the Future Cities Catapult
Where to find out more
Take a look at the success stories of some of the companies Innovate UK has supported in the UK and overseas.
If you have any questions about international support contact customer support service on 0300 321 4357 or email email@example.com.