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How your business could receive funding from the UK government and not pay it back. What’s the catch? There isn’t one

Cresco CEO Jo Derbyshire outlines how businesses can receive money from Innovate UK, who are keen to support innovative, and sometimes risky, projects in a bid to drive growth in the UK

I have worked in the innovation sector for 25 years – a privileged career where I work with great people on great projects, with many wonderful ‘eureka’ moments.

I have, over the years, become especially focused on grant funding for businesses and universities across a broad range of sectors.

When a business owner first hears that the UK government, through Innovate UK, funds companies to undertake risky research and development, many are incredulous and certainly suspicious.

People are usually looking for the catch, and I aim to reassure them that there are no catches. There are conditions, of course, but the bottom line is, with the conditions being met, the government may give you money, which doesn’t have to be paid back.

Why would Innovate give money to your business? Well, they are keen to drive industrial and economic growth for UK PLC, and one of the best ways of achieving this is by supporting innovative and often risky businesses to carry out innovative and certainly risky developments.

Cash injection to ‘transform your world’

2021 has been a great year for Cresco so far, winning four projects, with more than £6million of grant funding awarded. We also have a green tech company prepping for an interview right now for an award of £1million, and we are doing everything we can to support them (grill them) to pass their interview and receive their grant. The grant would be the largest cash injection that their business has received and will transform their world.

So, back to the ‘catches’ or ‘conditions’ that you must meet:

  • You need to envisage a project which is innovative and ground-breaking. Part of the application involves checking out competing approaches and explaining why your approach is better
  • You need to have a great team capable of delivering your project, or have a plan to secure a great team
  • You need to be able to show the project is risky. We include a risk table which talks about all the things that could go wrong and why you are well-placed to manage those risks
  • And you need to be able to show evidence that if your product or process is developed successfully, that you will have customers

There is no better feeling for me than when a client receives an offer letter from the funders. The ambitious plans which we have helped them create will now become a reality. New jobs will be created, prototypes built and, often, technologies which could literally be life-saving – like our medical projects – become reality.

This article was originally published in the spring edition of the Aspen Waite magazine, which you can read here.