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Healthy ageing: Investor partnership programme, round 2


Investors can apply to partner with Innovate UK to align their investments with up to £12million grant funding in UK-registered SMEs delivering innovation in the healthy ageing market. This funding is from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund.

Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, is inviting investors to partner with them for this healthy ageing investor partnership programme. Together you will align Innovate UK’s grant funding of relevant R&D projects alongside your investment in UK micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) concerned with developing products, services or business models, which address one or more of the seven themes of healthy ageing.

Innovate UK are seeking investor partners that are looking to invest in high-growth potential SMEs that aspire to finding solutions to address the issues associated with ageing well. The SMEs will be selected in a later competition.

The aim of this programme is to encourage investment in innovative companies with developed technologies that are working towards providing five extra years of healthy active life while also addressing social inequalities. Investor partners must provide wider business skills and experience as well as financial investment.

The Healthy Ageing investor partnership programme consists of two competitions:

  1. This investor partner selection competition
  2. The SME competition opens in spring 2021. This will be for SMEs to submit project applications for grant support with a clear alignment for private investment.

Open Date:


Close Date:


Innovate UK have allocated up to £12million in total to provide grant funding for SME projects aligned with private investment from investor partners.

During the SME phase of this competition, businesses will state what their total funding requirement is, including the Innovate UK grant funding aligned with equity investment.

If your organisation is selected to be an investor partner you will be expected to identify potential UK small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). These can be:

  • New investments for your organisation
  • Opportunities currently under consideration by you
  • SMEs already in your portfolio who are looking for further investment and grant funding for a specific project element

The SMEs seeking support will be required to carry out projects that meet the objectives of the Healthy Ageing Challenge.

SME selection process

Innovate UK plan to open the SME competition in spring 2021. Innovate UK will assess each invited project application using our independent pool of expert assessors and rank the assessed applications as fundable and non-fundable.

Lead investor partners will be expected to undertake their normal discussions and due diligence with SMEs of interest.

Innovate UK expect that funded SMEs will be ready to start their projects as soon as investment has been confirmed in writing and after they have completed project finance checks.

SME project requirements

SMEs’ projects must start no later than 1 September 2021 . Projects must have a duration of up to two years.

Total eligible project costs submitted by the SME must be between £1million and £3million.

Innovate UK grant funding will support up to 50% of total eligible project costs for feasibility studies and, industrial research projects.

If you are selected as an investor partner, you will be required to lead the aligned investment into your selected SMEs. Your investment must be at least equal to the amount of the Innovate UK grant. The investment should provide suitable capital to the SME, alongside the grant, to allow them to complete their project and enable the SME to grow and scale.

The investment can be in the form of either direct equity investment or convertible loans. It can come from:

  • A single investor partner
  • A lead investor partner syndicating with other investors from within or outside of the pool

State aid

The grant is provided through state aid funding under article 25, ‘Aid for research and development projects’, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is the SMEs’ responsibility to make sure that they are eligible to receive state aid.

All SMEs involved must ensure that the whole project funding complies with state aid principles. SMEs are encouraged to seek independent assurance to that effect.

Innovate UK are seeking investor partners who want to invest in high-growth potential SMEs. These small businesses must aspire to develop products, services or business models to address the healthy ageing themes in the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF). The ISCF wants everyone to have an extra five years of healthy life by 2035.

The SMEs can have business models that address both economic and societal objectives. The SMEs will be identified by the investor partners and selected in a later competition.

Your organisation must be an equity provider with the potential to act as lead investor in investments from £1million to £3million. Equity providers that are a charity or a trust are also eligible.

Innovate UK aim to establish a ‘pool’ of lead investor partners, interested in making investments aligned with Innovate UK grants. Investments must be either direct equity or convertible loans.

You must also be able to offer other commercial acumen to SMEs, such as:

  • Leadership
  • Market access
  • Skills or resources

No funding commitment is required at this stage. Innovate UK will need your commitment to provide aligned investment where Innovate UK offers grant funding to successful applicants in the SME competitions.

You must be able to demonstrate that your organisation is of good financial standing.

Innovate UK are looking for a mix of UK established investors with an interest in healthy ageing markets including venture capital, angel network, charity, social impact organisation or corporate venture investors.

Your organisation must demonstrate it has the capability, capacity and investment appetite to fund individual SMEs that aim to address one or more of the seven themes of ageing, these are:

  • Sustaining physical activity
  • Maintaining health at work
  • Designing for age-friendly homes
  • Managing common complaints of ageing
  • Living well with cognitive impairment
  • Supporting social connections
  • Creating healthy and active places

Investors can choose to focus their innovations on a number of these themes. For example, innovations could address the combined themes of sustaining physical activity, supporting social connections and creating healthy and active places.

Innovate UK’s preferences

Innovate UK are particularly interested in investors who:

  • Are willing to act as sole investor or be the lead investor where additional co-investment is required
  • Are prepared to deploy their investment with a patient and long-term view
  • Can follow their investment and potentially provide more financing when required with an aspiration to fund or leverage total investment of up to three times the original grant funding by 2025
  • Can commit to helping the SMEs with international aspirations to grow and scale up
  • Have relevant sector or technology-specific expertise or social impact priorities around the healthy ageing markets.

How investors are selected

The process for becoming an investor partner is selective. Applications will be assessed by independent assessors and considered by Innovate UK’s Investment Advisory Board.

By submitting an application to become an investor partner, you agree to be bound by the additional terms and conditions of the memorandum of understanding.

The document will not be countersigned by Innovate UK so it is not binding until you are confirmed as an investor partner.

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.