Applications Open for Innovate UK’s Smart Grants Programme

Deadline: 24 April 2019

Applicants are invited to apply for Innovate UK’s Smart Grants Programme for a share of up to £20 million to deliver ambitious or disruptive R&D innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy.

This competition provides funding for innovation research and development (R&D) from feasibility (including market research), through to technology or prototype testing and development stages up to (but not including) commercialisation.

Applicants proposal must demonstrate:

  • A clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative 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 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 with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each.
  • Sound, practical financial plans and timelines.
  • Good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions.
  • 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.
  • Clear, considerable potential to significantly impact the UK economy and/or productivity in a positive way.


  • Innovate UK gives preference to applications that demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets.
  • Proposals from innovation-based businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth or scale-up are welcomed.
  • Where possible, projects should take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions.

Research Categories

  • They are looking to fund a portfolio of projects, across a variety of technologies, markets and technological maturities.
  • Projects can focus on:
    • Feasibility studies, which may include market research
    • Industrial research
    • Experimental development, if appropriate for the challenge identified and proposed solution.

Projects will not fund

They will not fund proposals that:

  • Do not meet the competition scope
  • Do not address the size, potential and access to market for the innovation
  • Do not 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.

Funding Information

Innovate UK have allocated up to £20 million to fund a number of innovation projects in this competition.

Eligibility Criteria

  • Any UK business requesting funding must be eligible to receive state aid at the time they confirm applicant will be awarded funding. If applicant are unsure please take legal advice.
  • Applicant’s project
    • Project durations between 6 and 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. They can be single or collaborative projects.
    • Project durations between 19 months and 3 years must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. They must be collaborative projects.
    • All applications must include at least one micro, small or medium sized enterprise (SME).
    • If applicant want to submit a project between 19 months and 3 years with total project costs between £2 million and £3 million as a permitted exception, applicant must email in the given website with full justification at least 10 days before the competition closes. They will decide whether to approve their request.
    • They will not accept projects with a duration below 6 months and/or costs below £25,000.
    • Projects must start by 4 November 2019 and end no later than 4 November 2022.
  • To lead a project applicant must:
    • Be a UK-based business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
    • Carry out their project in the UK
    • Intend to exploit the results from the UK
    • Be an SME if applicant want to work alone
    • Include an SME if applicant want to collaborate with others (businesses, research organisations, public sector organisations and/or charities)
  • Single applicants must claim funding. If the project is collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.
  • An academic institution cannot lead on an application or work alone.
  • Collaborator: To collaborate on a project applicant must fulfil the criteria above and include an SME. Collaborators can be UK based businesses, academic organisations, charities, public sector organisations or RTOs.
  • Partners with no funding: Projects can include partners that do not receive any funding (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total project costs but they will not count as collaborators.
  • Multiple applications
    • Any one business or RTO can only lead one project application per competition round. If more than one application is submitted with the same lead, only the first application will be considered for assessment.
    • Applicants can collaborate on as many applications as applicants wish.
    • An academic institution can be a collaborator in any number of applications.
  • Research and Technology organisations:
    • If applicants are an RTO then the following rules apply:
      • To lead applicant must have 2 or more business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size).
      • If applicant are a project partner, applicant can participate as either a knowledge provider, and receive 100% grant, or as a business entity, and be reimbursed a percentage of their eligible costs, depending upon their size and the nature of the work.
      • If participating as a business, applicant must show that the match funding applicant are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects applicant are involved in.
      • The knowledge providers or research organisations in applicants consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs.

How to Apply

Interested applicants can apply via given website.

For more information, please visit

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