General guidance - Innovate UK


What happens after you have submitted your application

How your application is assessed

The assessment process listed here is the standard approach. Some assessments may vary and some funding may not go through a standard assessment process, but this will be made clear in the specific competition guidance.

After the deadline, applications that meet the competitions eligibility criteria and scope are sent for assessment.

You will be notified if your application is ineligible and we will tell you reasons why. Innovate UK has the right to declare applications as ineligible.

Eligible applications are assessed by independent assessors. The assessors are experts from across business and academia and are allocated based on the skills and expertise in the area relevant to your project.

Watch our video showing how our assessors assess your application.

Standard assessment process

The standard assessment process applied to most full stage applications is as follows:

  1. Applications are allocated to assessors in a secure and confidential manner, taking into account conflicts of interest and expertise that best match the competition. Applications are primarily allocated to assessors using machine intelligence. Assessors are not able to see or access any previous scoring or feedback you may have received for a previous application.
  2. Each application is assessed by three to five independent assessors except our Smart programme. You can view this assessment process in the Smart: innovation funding guidance.
  3. If you have submitted an application for a second time, we cannot guarantee different assessors will assess your application.
  4. Applications are assessed against the stated questions in your competition.
  5. Each individual assessor submits scores for assessed questions with comments for each of these. The assessor comments will form your application feedback.
  6. A report is compiled to identify a ranked order of all applications based on the average of all assessor scores. This is known as the panel sheet.
  7. The panel sheet is reviewed and moderated by the Innovation Lead responsible for the competition.
  8. Moderation involves checking for any outlying assessor scores, for instance, if one of the scores varies considerably from the other scores provided. If an outlier is found, their score might be removed from your overall score but their feedback comments will remain within the Innovation Funding Service. We will make you aware of this in your notification email.
  9. The highest ranking applications, subject to a minimum quality threshold, are recommended to Innovate UK for funding.
  10. The final recommended panel list is presented to the Innovate UK Funder’s Panel to obtain final approval for funding. The funders panel is made of a team of Innovate UK operational staff to ensure the smooth transition through project setup.

Watch our video showing how successful applications are selected for funding.

While Innovate UK engages assessors to act on its behalf, we retain the right to make any decision over scope, and whether a proposal is in or out of scope for a competition. Projects considered out of scope will not be funded.

The portfolio approach

Innovate UK reserves the right to apply a ‘portfolio’ approach in certain competitions. The portfolio can be spread across a range of:

The ‘portfolio approach’ is used to fit the spend profile of the competition. The Innovation Lead or Challenge Director responsible for the competition will make sure that funds are allocated across the strategic areas identified in the scope of the competition. This may mean that a proposal that scores less than yours is successful.

Standard interview process

The standard interview process applied to most full stage applications is as follows:

  1. A shortlist of applications are selected and invited to interview. They are selected based on the following criteria:
    • score achieved from the initial written assessment
    • fit against the portfolio of projects.
  2. The panel is selected, expertise verified, and availability confirmed.
  3. Once the shortlist is agreed the projects are invited via email to attend an interview. The email invite will state the exact date, time, duration, location (if applicable) and how many attendees are allowed at the interview.
  4. Interviews can rarely be rescheduled once allocated, so make sure you are available on the dates published within the specific competition brief.
  5. Your interview will consist of your presentation followed by a question and answer session led by the panel.
  6. Your presentation should outline anything you want to explain further in support of your application or answer the assessor feedback.
  7. You will be asked to provide a copy of your presentation slides and response to assessor feedback two weeks before your interview. This will allow the panel time to review your application and the additional information.
  8. The panel are provided with a copy of your original application and appendices, feedback from the written assessment, your response to feedback (if provided) and presentation slides.
  9. You must not bring any additional materials to your interview to share with the panel. This will not be allowed, unless specifically asked for within the invite.
  10. If you overrun on your presentation you will be allowed to finish your sentence and then asked to stop to ensure all applicants have the same time allocated to them.
  11. All applicants are given the same amount of time to present and for the panel to ask questions as stated in your specific competition brief.
  12. Once the interview is over the panel will discuss your application, and independently score it based on the information you have provided in the presentation.
  13. The interview score will override your initial written score unless stated otherwise in the competition brief.
  14. After all the interviews have finished, Innovate UK will collate the scores and re-rank the projects into order from top to bottom. If stated in the competition brief the Innovation lead may take a portfolio of projects that best support the objectives of the competition.
  15. You will be provided with a copy of your interview feedback after you have been notified of the outcome of your project.

UKRI Challenge Fund competition assessment process

  1. UKRI Challenge Fund competitions managed by Innovate UK, will follow the standard Innovate UK written assessment process. In addition to the standard process we may include a request for you to present to an interview panel. The UKRI Challenge Fund interview process will be explained in the competition guidance.
  2. Projects will be reviewed by a panel of industry experts against the portfolio criteria set out in the competition The panel will make written recommendations of which projects to fund, to the UKRI Challenge Fund Challenge Director. The outcomes of the competition will be confirmed by UK Research and Innovation senior management through the agreed UKRI Challenge Fund approvals process or government ministers.

Decisions and feedback

Once the decisions have been agreed, you are informed of the final decision on your application by email. This decision is final and there is no right of appeal.

Assessor feedback is provided to successful and unsuccessful applicants and is made up of the comments provided by the assessors. Your notification email will state when feedback will be available from if not immediately; feedback is published on your Innovation Funding Service dashboard.

The assessor feedback is intended to be constructive. Contradiction in your feedback may suggest that your proposal could be clearer or better justified, as well as reflecting the different views of assessors.

Your feedback may contain points or comments that you may disagree with. The comments provided will be based on the individual assessors’ interpretation of your project idea.

No additional feedback will be provided and addressing feedback with Innovate UK or the assessors in question is not permitted.

You may wish to address assessor feedback in a resubmitted application should you be eligible.

Addressing assessor feedback in a previously submitted application does not guarantee success. The onus is on you to determine whether acting upon feedback will strengthen a decision to resubmit an application.

There is no right of appeal against the feedback provided. Innovate UK will not enter any discussions or complaints regarding the scientific or technical decision made regarding your application.

Assessor confidentiality and potential conflicts of interest

All assessors have to sign confidentiality agreements and declare any potential conflicts of interest on the applications they are assigned. They must treat applications in the strictest of confidence and adhere to information protection rules.

Assessors working for Innovate UK are engaged as individuals, not as representatives of their employment. They must carry out an assessment of the applications themselves. They cannot ask anyone else to review an application in their place nor ask anyone to give another opinion of their assessment.

All assessors will be briefed on each competition by Innovate UK to undertake assessments according to our requirements.

Innovate UK preserves the anonymity of the assessors and their names will not be provided under the Freedom of Information Act 2000.

Last updated: 3 August 2023

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