£25m to fund ‘game-changing’ UK innovations that will have major economic impact

UK companies developing potentially “game-changing” or "disruptive" R&D in any area of science, technology or engineering can apply for up to £25m of 'Smart' funding.

UK innovations that are scalable to a global marketplace and that are ground-breaking in their respective field, may be eligible for significant backing through Innovate UK’s Smart programme which aims to invest in innovative business projects across any technology area.

Industrial Automation - Industry 4.0 concept, intelligent factory with control over the Internet. Use smartphone to check status and order, with icon flow automation and data exchange in manufacturing technologies - image courtesy of Depositphotos.
Applicants will be expected to explain how they intend to meet a 10-point system of success before funding is granted

Applications will be accepted from areas such as technology, science and engineering, provided it meets the aforementioned criteria, as well as taking into account “customer and user needs.”

Applications open on Thursday 9 January 2020, and close on Wednesday 22 April 2020 at 12:00pm.

Projects may also be in line with the Grand Challenges initiative set out in September 2019, in which British companies are encouraged to consider the first four global trends that will most likely impact people’s lives in the near future: Artificial Intelligence (AI) and data, an ageing society, clean and sustainable growth, and the future of mobility.

Innovate UK Smart funding criteria

Innovate UK grants for Smart projects, or “ambitious, disruptive R&D projects with a high potential for commercial, are available provided businesses have:

  • An idea for a completely new product, service or process
  • A brand-new use or an unprecedented use for an existing product, service or process that take it above and beyond what is currently available

Whereas, a Business innovation grant for new products, services or processes offer between £25,000 and £10m (between £100,000 and £1m for SMEs that want to carry out late-stage innovation projects), provided applicants want:

  • To test the feasibility of an idea and make sure it will work
  • Create a new product, process or service, or improve an existing one, through research and development
  • Work with other businesses or research organisations on collaborative innovation projects

Applicants will be expected to explain how they intend to meet a 10-point system of success before funding is granted that includes, the technological challenge or market opportunity behind the innovation, describing the markets (domestic, international or both) they will be targeting, and how they intend to grow the business and increase productivity in the long term.


By Rory Butler, Staff Journalist 

*Images courtesy of DepositPhotos