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Business-led innovation in response to global disruption (de minimis)


UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20million in innovation projects.

The aim of this competition is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. By fast-tracking innovation, the UK will be better placed to maintain employment levels, a competitive position in global markets and make the UK more resilient to similar disruption.

Your application must demonstrate both realistic and significant benefits for society (including communities, families and individuals) or an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.

Your proposal must focus on a clear need and the proposed innovation to address it. You must have the ability to deliver the project during the working restrictions of Covid-19 pandemic.

You can claim 100% of your project costs up to the maximum of £50,000. These will be paid in advance of the project start date.

Innovate UK intend to monitor and review projects during implementation with a view to providing follow-on funding and support for those with the most potential for impact.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Your application must demonstrate:

  • A clearly innovative and ambitious idea, which would realistically and significantly meet a societal need that has emerged or increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic or the need of an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted
  • That you have the capacity and capability to deliver the project successfully and on time during the working restrictions of Covid-19
  • The ability to start your project no later than June 2020
  • Value for money

Specific themes

Innovate UK are interested in solutions, which tackle the new or emerging societal or industry needs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, including but not exclusively:

  • Community support services
  • Couriers and delivery (rural and/or city based)
  • Education and culture
  • Entertainment (live entertainment, music, etc.)
  • Financial services
  • Food manufacture and processing
  • Healthcare
  • Hospitality
  • Personal protection equipment
  • Remote working
  • Retail
  • Social care
  • Sport and recreation
  • Transport
  • Wellbeing

Innovate UK are also interested in projects which are both in scope and aligned to the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) challenges.

Innovate UK are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and applications.

De minimis

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. All applicants applying for a de minimis award must complete a de minimis declaration and provide it to Innovate UK as part of the application. This declares any and all de minimis awards, from any source of public funding, during the current and previous two fiscal years. Any applications that exceed the de minimis limit will be considered ineligible.

Innovate UK will monitor and review projects during implementation with a view to providing follow on funding and support where projects have the potential to provide real impact.

While the intent of this grant is to focus on innovation in the face of global disruption, the de minimis aid itself cannot be used for direct export-related activities (except attendance at trade fairs) or aid favouring domestic goods over imports; this does not prohibit you from exporting your innovation post-project completion.

Your project

Your project must:

  • Have total eligible costs between £25,000 and £50,000
  • Be able to start by 1st June 2020 at the latest
  • Be no longer than 6 months in duration

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to deliver the proposed outcomes for UK domestic or global benefit

Sole traders are not eligible to apply for this competition.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Innovate UK would expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Multiple applications

Any one business can apply for this competition with up to two applications. However, Innovate UK will only award grant funding to up to one project per business.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £20million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Each organisation can apply for up to £50,000 within de minimis limits.

You can claim 100% of your project costs up to the maximum of £50,000. These will be paid in advance of the project start date.

De minimis

To minimise distortion of competition, the European Commission sets limits on how much assistance can be given without its prior approval to organisations operating in a competitive market. There is a ceiling of €200,000 for all de minimis aid provided to any one organisation over a three fiscal year period.

You need to declare any de minimis aid awarded to any public funding body that requests it. You must also keep all documentation associated with the award for 10 years from the date the award is granted.

Innovate UK will not fund proposals that:

  • Do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • Cannot be undertaken within the working restrictions of Covid-19
  • Do not evidence the potential for their proposed innovation to lead to significant and positive economic and/or societal impact, or value for money that will be achieved
  • Are resubmissions of previous Innovate UK applications
  • Are focused on aquaculture and fisheries, road freight transport or the production of agricultural products (due to de minimis restrictions)
  • Would directly duplicate other UK Government activities already under way regarding the current Covid-19 healthcare situation, such as, ventilators and vaccines
  • Do not address in their response how any potentially negative outcomes (eg on the environment) would be considered

Cresco Innovation works with companies to develop and implement innovation strategies. We help client companies identify opportunities to develop new products and services, and then create a package of support to ensure that the idea is turned into a commercial reality.

Our services include securing grants (as a team we have raised around £40million over three years), business planning, IP advice, access to finance and funders, project management and IP commercialisation support.

We regularly act as the interface with the funding bodies and help clients ensure that their projects are properly managed to ensure the best outcome for all.

Call to find out more

If you’d like to know more about this competition, please give us a call on 01509 261182 and one of our team will be delighted to help you access this funding opportunity for your business.