Guidance

Innovation: get support and advice

Guidance for business and academic organisations on how to get advice and support to test and develop innovative products and services.

Overview

If you have an idea for an innovative product or service, you can get help from Innovate UK to develop it and make it successful.

You can get technical help and access specialist facilities. You can also get expert knowledge from universities and research organisations.

Innovate UK provides opportunities to help you network, share ideas and find project partners. You can get support to work with international partners, major businesses and government. This support is available for all UK based companies. You can also get help from some programmes if you are an individual or an organisation.

Get expert knowledge from universities and research organisations

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships (KTP)

You can improve your business by working with an expert at a UK university or research organisation. This expert will help you recruit a graduate to work in your business on a specific project. You can apply if you are a business or a third sector or public sector organisation. You can apply whichever industry your business is in and throughout the year.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from KTP support.

Access specialist networks

Innovation networks

_connect is Innovate UK’s free online networking platform. You can use it to access specialist networks and link up with other innovators and potential project partners.

Knowledge Transfer Network (KTN)

You can get information on the latest developments and opportunities through KTN. You can also network with others working in your business sector. You can use this network to share knowledge, ideas and opportunities. You can join if you are an individual or a business. Organisations, such as government departments and universities, are also eligible. You can find KTN on _connect.

Get support from experts for small businesses

SME growth support

If you’re a startup, micro, small or medium-sized business that has been awarded funding through an eligible Innovate UK competition, you will be able to gain access to support and connections to help your business grow faster.

You’ll be able to discuss your business needs with a growth expert and complete an online diagnostic for your business. Based on the results, you will be offered opportunities to get coaching, mentoring or entrepreneurial skills training, covering areas such as developing a business model, sales, strategic marketing, access to finance, leadership and change management.

All SMEs awarded funding after January 2015 will be automatically invited to participate. You can find more information here in What happens if you are successful?

Innovation Vouchers

If you’re a startup, micro, small or medium-sized business, you can get support from an external expert. You can use this expert to help you gain new knowledge, and to help you to innovate, develop and grow.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from support through the Innovation Vouchers programme.

Work with other businesses and access specialist facilities

Catapult centres

You can find technical facilities and expertise at Innovate UK’s 7 Catapult centres. You can use this support to help you adopt, develop and exploit your innovative products and technologies. Each centre focuses on a specific industry and 2 new Catapults will be set up in 2015. Any size UK business can use Catapult facilities.

Innovation and knowledge centres (IKC)

You can use IKC facilities to test and develop new technologies as they emerge from the research base. You can work with other businesses or research organisations and share knowledge.

Get support for international collaboration

Enterprise Europe Network

Through the Enterprise Europe Network you can access a range of support locally such as help in seeking funding for R&D and Innovation, an extensive database of European and international businesses looking for partnerships and collaboration with UK businesses, advice on intellectual property and patents, and EU law and standards. The Network provides events and networking opportunities as well as face to face discussions with innovation and business advisors.

Horizon 2020 National Contact Points (NCPs)

You can get support and advice to help you access EU funding and find project partners from other European countries. You can also get advice on preparing funding proposals or getting a product or service ready for market. Innovate UK’s National Contact Points provide free and confidential advice to small or medium-sized business. You must work in areas such as health, clean energy and transport.

Attend networking and collaboration events

Missions

You can find new project partners, customers, suppliers and investors in other countries. Innovate UK and UKTI run short overseas business trips for ambitious entrepreneurs. Mission themes vary but have included digital, healthcare and clean technology. Eligibility criteria vary.

Innovate UK

You can connect with other businesses and showcase your innovations at the annual Innovate UK event. You can also find project partners and meet businesses and government contacts from the UK and overseas. The Innovate UK conference and exhibition takes place each year in November.

Get advice on working with major partners and government

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

If you are a UK business, SBRI can give you help and advice on getting a public sector contract. You must have an innovative product or service that can help improve public services by solving a specific problem. Each funding competition has a different theme.

Read about how other businesses have benefited from SBRI support.

IC tomorrow

You can get advice and support on working with major partners through Innovate UK’s IC tomorrow programme. You can also use the IC tomorrow network to make connections and find funding opportunities. It’s open to individuals, organisations and companies working in the digital sector.

Get help to attract investors

GrowthShowcase

If you have already received support from Innovate UK or the Business Growth Service, you may be able to showcase your business to potential investors through the GrowthShowcase online portal.

Get help to understand the future market for your innovation

Horizons

If you need to know more about the factors influencing your future market, you can use Horizons, a free online tool. Horizons provides a checklist of the environmental and social factors that can change markets.

You can use Horizons to identify trends and drive new innovation. You can also use it to develop and test your strategy and to help you make the best commercial decisions. Horizons is available to anyone.

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.