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Innovate UK Smart Grants: January 2021

Overview:

Opportunity for UK-registered organisations to apply for a share of up to £25million from Innovate UK to deliver game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy.

Smart is Innovate UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:

  • The arts, design and media
  • Creative industries
  • Science or engineering

While Innovate UK welcome projects that overlap with the grand challenge areas this is not a requirement, as they are also keen to support projects in other areas.

To monitor the impact of their work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), Innovate UK need to collect relevant data and evidence. For this competition this means:

  • All applicants are required to complete the EDI survey
  • Applicants are prompted to consider EDI as part of the application process

EDI considerations are highly encouraged where appropriate in the proposal. Applications will continue to be assessed on their innovation merit, where innovation is defined as the potential for commercially successful exploitation of ideas.

Projects of six to 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000 and can be single or collaborative. Projects of 19-36 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2million and must be collaborative.

Open Date:

21/01/2021

Close Date:

26/05/2021

Your proposal must demonstrate:

  • A clear game-changing, innovative, disruptive, and ambitious idea leading to new products, processes or services
  • An idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
  • A strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • A clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • A team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
  • Awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including contractor or equipment failure, recruitment delays, etc) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
  • Clear, considerable potential to significantly impact either or both, the UK economy and productivity in a positive way
  • Sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions

Specific themes

Innovate UK strongly encourage applications to demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets.

Proposals from innovation-based businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth or scale-up are welcome.

Where possible, projects should take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions.

Your project must:

  • Include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
  • Start by 1 November 2021
  • End by 30 November 2024
  • Follow specific rules dependent on it’s duration

If your project’s duration is six to 18 months:

  • It must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000
  • It can be single or collaborative

If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:

  • Have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2million
  • Be collaborative

Lead organisation

To lead a project you must:

  • Be a UK-registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Be an SME if you want to work alone
  • Include at least one SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK-registered businesses, research organisations, academic organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • Carry out all your project activity in the UK
  • Intend to commercially exploit the project results from or in the UK

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Single applicants must claim funding. If the project is collaborative, the lead and at least one other UK registered organisation must claim funding and enter costs as part of the application.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered business, academic organisation, charity, public sector organisation or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • Carry out its project work in the UK
  • Intend to commercially exploit the project results from or in the UK
  • Be invited to take part by the lead applicant

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners must enter their own project costs into IFS.

Your project can include partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total eligible project costs, but they will not count as collaborators.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK, must be based in the UK for the duration of the project and their portion of the project work must be carried out in the UK.

Innovate UK expect subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Without meeting these criteria, subcontractor’s contribution would be deemed ineligible.

Number of applications

Businesses or RTOs can only lead on one application. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will not be forwarded for assessment.

All partners can collaborate on any number of applications.

Research and technology organisations (RTOs)

If you are an RTO then the following rules apply:

  1. To lead you must have two or more business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size).
  2. There must be a credible route to market for the output of the project, and since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the progress of those using their services, this is expected to be through the partners, rather than through the RTO itself.
  3. If you are a project partner, you can participate as either a research organisation, and receive 100% grant, or as a business entity, and be reimbursed a percentage of your eligible costs, depending upon your size and the nature of the work.
  4. If participating as a business, you must show that the match funding you are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects you are involved in. You must also be able to show how you will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted unsuccessful application to apply for this competition.

You can make a maximum of two submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum.

If your application goes through to assessment and is deemed unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:

State aid

Innovate UK is unable to award grant funding to organisations meeting the condition known as undertakings in difficulty (UiD). However, as per the amendment on 2 July 2020 to the General Block Exemption regulation, Innovate UK will provide funding to organisations that can prove they were not a UiD on the date of 31 December 2019 but became a UiD between 1 January 2020 and 30 June 2021. You will be asked for evidence of this.

Any UK-registered business claiming grant funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time it is confirmed you will be awarded funding.

This competition provides state aid funding under article 25 Aid for R&D projects, of the General Block Exemption Regulation (GBER). It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

Innovate UK have allocated up to £25million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your organisation’s work on the project is mostly commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, your organisation could get funding for eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • Up to 60% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • Up to 50% if you are a large organisation

For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your organisations eligible project costs of:

  • Up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
  • Up to 35% if you are a medium-sized organisation
  • Up to 25% if you are a large organisation

The research organisations in your consortium undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them.

Innovate UK will not fund proposals that do not:

  • Meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • Address the size, potential and access to market for the innovation
  • Evidence the potential for their idea or concept to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business

Innovate UK will not fund commercialisation activities.

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.