General guidance - Innovate UK


Other funding opportunities

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund

Through this fund, the government is bringing world-class research and businesses together to take on the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.

The challenges are aligned with the four grand challenges (GOV.UK) named in the Industrial Strategy.

New challenges and funding opportunities are announced intermittently.

Get the latest on the fund and the various challenge areas on GOV.UK.

Innovate UK Smart grants

Innovate UK Smart grants support the very best, game-changing and disruptive ideas that have the potential to change the world.

Funding is available for projects at various stages, from feasibility studies through to developing and testing a prototype, coming from any industry and anywhere in the UK.

Projects should either:

  • develop a brand new product, service or process
  • take an existing technology or service above and beyond what’s currently available in the field.

Find out more about the programme and funding opportunities.

Knowledge transfer partnerships

You can get funding to bring in new knowledge and expertise through a knowledge transfer partnership. Taking part will allow you to work with an academic organisation and a highly-qualified graduate to innovate within your business.

You can apply if you are a business, public or third sector organisation.

Find out more about knowledge transfer partnerships.

The Knowledge Transfer Network

KTN is a network partner of Innovate UK. It links new ideas and opportunities with expertise, markets and finance through our network of businesses, universities, funders and investors. From agri-food to autonomous systems and from energy to design, KTN combines in-depth knowledge in all sectors with the ability to cross boundaries.

Find out more about the Knowledge Transfer Network.

Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)

Through SBRI, you can apply for funded contracts with government organisations to develop their innovative ideas. Public sector organisations that have successfully run SBRIs include the NHS, Ministry of Defence and the former Department of Energy & Climate Change.

Find out more and apply into an SBRI.

Innovation loans

Innovate UK’s pilot loans programme has up to £50 million available in innovation loans. These are low interest, flexible, patient loans for small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to carry out late-stage experimental development projects in the UK.

To get a loan you need to apply and be successful in a loan competition.

Read our introduction to innovation loans to find out if they are right for you and how to apply.

Investment accelerator

The investment accelerator programme provides simultaneous grant funding and venture capital investment in early-stage innovation projects. This joint public and private investment stops UK businesses from having to chase additional capital and gives them a clearer route to commercialisation.

Search the Innovation Funding Service for other funding competitions.

Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)

The ICURe pilot programme funds research teams to accelerate the time it takes to get ideas out of the lab and to commercialisation. If your organisation is a start-up that has emerged through the programme, you could get funding to help you establish your business and support future growth.

Find out more about the ICURe programme.

Read an evaluation of the pilot programme so far.

Biomedical Catalyst

The Biomedical Catalyst funds businesses and researchers to test and develop innovative health and care projects.

It supports the acceleration and scale up of ideas that prevent and manage diseases, support better detection and diagnosis and create tailored treatments that improve patient outcomes.

The programme is run by Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council.

Find out more about the Biomedical Catalyst and funding opportunities on GOV.UK.

Energy Catalyst

This programme offers funding to UK businesses and researchers to develop ideas for tackling the global need for clean, affordable and secure energy. It funds projects from early-stage through to commercialisation to quickly bring innovative new energy solutions to market.

The programme is run by Innovate UK with co-funding from partners including the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council, the Department for International Development and the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy.

Find out more about the Energy Catalyst and the funding opportunities.

International programmes

We run a number of initiatives that can help you get access to international opportunities and partners. This includes Horizon 2020, EUREKA Eurostars and the Newton Fund. These are open to a range of organisation types and size.

Find out more about global opportunities with Innovate UK.

Get specific advice on Horizon 2020 for UK businesses and how to apply.

Search directly for current European research and innovation funding opportunities on the European Commission funding and tender opportunities portal.

Search for ‘international’ on the Innovation Funding Service.

Managed programmes

Innovate UK also runs funding competitions on behalf of other organisations. Details and how to apply are published as new competitions are announced.

Search the Innovation Funding Service for other funding competitions.

Last updated: 17 August 2021

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