Guidance

Innovation: get details about Innovate UK funding competitions

Guidance for business and academic organisations on how to access funding through Innovate UK.

Innovate UK runs the following funding competitions. Each competition has a different application process and eligibility criteria.

Catalysts

Overview

You can get £150,000 to £10 million from Innovate UK to run a research and development project. You can use this funding to test and develop an innovative idea and make it successful. Your project can help to create new knowledge or develop a new product, process or service.

Innovate UK works with the research councils to run 4 Catalysts:

  • Agri-Tech Catalyst
  • Biomedical Catalyst
  • Energy Catalyst
  • Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst

Grant levels vary but you may get funding for up to 60% of your project costs. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself.

Eligibility

To qualify for Catalyst funding you must:

  • be a UK business (or thinking of starting a business) or a research organisation
  • work in agri-tech, biomedical, energy or industrial biotechnology industries
  • work with a research partner or other business on this project

How to apply

These are ongoing competitions and you can apply at any time. Different levels of funding are available depending on how close your project is to completion. You must apply online.

There are 3 main phases of funding:

  • early-stage feasibility studies
  • industrial research such as prototyping, field trials or market testing
  • late-stage testing in a real-life environment

Collaborative research and development

Overview

You could get from £25,000 to £5 million or more from Innovate UK to fund a research and development (R&D) programme. You could use this funding to test and develop a new product, process or service.

Innovate UK runs collaborative R&D funding competitions to solve specific technical or societal challenges. Grant levels vary but you may get funding for up to 60% of your project costs. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself.

Eligibility

To qualify for a collaborative R&D award you must:

  • be a UK business or research organisation
  • work in science, engineering or technology industries
  • work with a research partner or other business on this project

How to apply

Each funding competition has a different theme. Opening dates and deadlines vary. You must apply online. Proposals must be business-led and you must work with another business or research organisation.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from CR&D funding.

Eurostars

Overview

Innovate UK can help you access EU funding through the Eurostars programme.

You can use this funding for research or to develop an innovative product, process or service. You can find partners from other European countries to work with on your project.

You can get up to €300,000 to cover 50% of your project costs. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself.

Eligibility

To qualify for a Eurostars award you must:

  • be a small or medium-sized UK business
  • work in a high-tech industry
  • want to work with other businesses in Europe

If you are a larger company or a research organisation you can still be part of the project but you must fund your own costs.

How to apply

Each Eurostars funding competition has a different theme. Competitions run every 6 months. You can apply online at any time. Your proposal must involve partners in at least 2 other EU countries.

You can get more information and advice from the network of National Contact Points.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from Eurostars funding.

Feasibility studies

Overview

You can get up to £400,000 from Innovate UK to test a business idea and see if it will work. You could use this funding to develop a new product, process, model, experience or service.

You may also be able to showcase your completed project at a Collaboration Nation event.

Grant levels vary but you may get funding for up to 70% of your project costs if you are a business. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself. Research organisations can get up to 100%. Projects can be collaborative or just your business working alone.

Eligibility

To qualify for a feasibility study award you must be a UK business or research organisation.

How to apply

Proposals must be business-led. Each funding competition has a different theme. Opening dates and deadlines vary. You must apply online.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from feasibility studies funding.

Horizon 2020

Overview

Innovate UK can help you access EU funding through the Horizon 2020 programme. You can use this funding to:

  • achieve something that’s too big to do alone
  • work with other organisations across a value chain
  • gain access to science and technology
  • draw on skills and expertise you don’t have
  • find opportunities to trial innovative solutions

Eligibility

Any type of organisation can apply for Horizon 2020 funding:

  • businesses of all sizes
  • universities
  • charities
  • institutes
  • public bodies
  • healthcare providers

How to apply

There are 3 funding themes:

  • excellent science - improving Europe’s science base
  • industrial leadership - helping Europe attract research and innovation investment
  • societal challenges

Each funding competition has a different theme. Opening dates and deadlines vary. You must apply online.

You can get more information and advice from the Horizon 2020 network of National Contact Points.

Innovation Vouchers

Overview

You can get up to £5,000 from Innovate UK to pay for an external expert to help your business grow.

You can use this expert to develop or improve an innovative idea for a new product, process or service. Or they could show you how to use design within your business or how to manage and use intellectual property.

Innovate UK can help you find and choose an expert from one of the following:

  • universities and further education colleges
  • research and technology institutes
  • technical consultancies and Catapult centres
  • design advisers
  • intellectual property advisers

Eligibility

To qualify for an Innovation Voucher you must:

  • be starting up or running a micro, small or medium-sized UK business
  • need help with something that’s a real challenge for your business, not just a small improvement or change
  • have not worked with this expert before

How to apply

Innovate UK awards Innovation Vouchers once every 3 months. We enter eligible applications into a draw and choose winners at random. You must apply online. This competition runs throughout the year.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from Innovation Vouchers funding.

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

Overview

You could get funding of around £80,000 from Innovate UK to improve your business by working with a research organisation and newly-qualified graduate.

This funding covers part of the cost of a graduate working in your company on a specific innovation project. Your research partner will supervise the graduate’s work.

Grant levels vary. If you are a small or medium-sized business you can get funding of up to 67% of the project costs. Larger businesses can get up to 50%. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself.

Eligibility

You can apply for a KTP award if you are a:

  • UK business of any size
  • large company with a focus on supply chains
  • charity or not-for-profit organisation
  • higher or further education organisation
  • private or public sector research and technology organisation

How to apply

If you would like to form a KTP you should contact a regional KTP advisor or university KTP office to discuss your project idea. KTP advisers will tell you if you are eligible and will work with potential partners to develop joint proposals. KTP is open to any business although some KTP competitions target businesses working in specific industry sectors.

Opening dates and deadlines vary. You must apply online.

If you are a graduate, recruitment takes place throughout the year. You can find current vacancies and apply online.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from KTP funding.

Launchpads

Overview

You can get up to £100,000 to turn an innovative idea into a commercial project. You can also get business support and coaching to attract private investment.

Innovate UK runs Launchpad funding competitions to help technology-focused companies in specific geographic clusters.

Eligibility

To qualify for Launchpad funding you must:

  • be an early-stage small or medium-sized UK business
  • work in a high-tech industry
  • have ambitions to grow your company
  • work in a specific UK location, plan to move into the area or to work with a company already in the cluster
  • attract private funding to match the grant you receive

How to apply

Innovate UK runs around 3 Launchpad funding competitions every year. Opening dates and deadlines vary. You must apply online. Grants are conditional on you raising the same level of private investment.

You can also join Launchpad groups on the _connect networking platform to get the latest updates.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

Overview

You can win a contract to research and develop a new product or service for the public sector. Your innovative idea can help improve public services by solving a specific problem.

You can win initial funding of around £50,000 to £100,000 to test your idea and see if it will work. You can win a further contract worth up to £1 million or more to develop this idea.

Eligibility

You can apply for an SBRI contract if you are a business.

How to apply

Each funding competition has a different theme. Opening dates and deadlines vary. You must apply online.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from SBRI funding.

Smart

Overview

You can get £25,000 to £250,000 from Innovate UK to run an R&D project. You could use this funding to develop a new product, process or service.

Grant levels vary. You can get funding of up to 60% of your project costs to prove that your idea will work or to find a potential market. You can get funding of up to 45% to develop a prototype. You will need to fund the remaining costs yourself.

Eligibility

To qualify for Smart funding you must:

  • be an early-stage, micro, small or medium-sized UK business or be thinking of starting a business
  • have both the ambition and potential to achieve high growth
  • work in science, engineering or technology industries

How to apply

The Smart funding programme is always open and is not restricted to specific themes or industries. You must apply online.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from Smart funding.

What if you’re not eligible

You can use the Business Finance Support Finder to check for other funding opportunities. You can also download the Innovation Directory (PDF, 547KB, 50 pages) to find details for other relevant organisations.