General guidance - Innovate UK


What happens after you have submitted your application

The assessment process listed here is the standard approach to assessing your application. Some assessments may vary and some funding may not go through a standard assessment process, but this will be made clear in the guidance for the funding opportunity you are applying for.

After the deadline, applications that meet the eligibility, scope and overall guidance of the funding opportunity are sent for assessment. You will be notified if your application is ineligible with full reasons as to why. Innovate UK has the right to declare applications as ineligible.

Applications are assessed by up to five independent assessors. The assessors are experts from both business and academia and are allocated based on the skills and expertise in the area relevant to your project.

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 funding opportunity.
  2. Each application is assessed by a minimum of 3 independent assessors. Our Smart programme will always be assessed by a minimum of 4 assessors.
  3. Applications are assessed against the same set of questions within a funding category.
  4. Each assessor must complete and submit a score-sheet with comments for each application they assess. This will form your application feedback.
  5. 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.
  6. The panel sheet is reviewed and moderated.
  7. The highest ranking applications, subject to a minimum quality threshold, are recommended to Innovate UK for funding.
  8. Moderation involves checking for any outlying assessor scores, for instance, if one of the scores varies considerably from the other scores provided.
  9. The final recommended panel list is presented to the Funder’s Panel of Innovate UK to obtain final approval for funding.
  10. Resubmissions are assessed in their own right. Applications are allocated at random and assessors are not able to see or access any previous feedback or scoring you may have received. We cannot guarantee that any applications resubmitted will be assessed by the same assessors.

Please note that while Innovate UK engages assessors to act on its behalf, we keep the right of decision over scope and to whether a proposal is in or out of scope absolutely. Projects considered out of scope will not be funded.

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

  • scope areas
  • categories of research and development
  • project durations
  • project costs, including demonstrating value for money.

This is to fit the spend profile of the competition. It will make sure that funds are allocated across the strategic areas identified in the scope of the funding opportunity. Successful applications are all required to meet a quality threshold.

Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) competition assessment process

ISCF competitions run by Innovate UK will follow the standard Innovate UK assessment process. This part of the process may include an interview panel, which will be explained in the competition guidance.

Projects that score above the agreed quality threshold will be reviewed by a panel of industry experts against the portfolio criteria set out in the competition details.

The panel will make written recommendations of which projects to fund, to the ISCF Challenge Director.

The outcomes of the competition will be confirmed by UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) senior management through the agreed ISCF approvals process.

You will be notified of the decision and receive feedback.

Once all applications are assessed, you are informed of the final decision by email. If you are the lead applicant you should ensure any application partners know of the decision. 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. This can take up to 4 weeks after you are notified of the decision. You will receive an email that will let you know when feedback is ready to view.

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 the assessor feedback in a resubmitted application should you be eligible. Please note: resubmissions will be reviewed by different assessors who will have no prior knowledge of the original application or its feedback.

Addressing assessor feedback in a resubmission does not guarantee success and the onus is on you to act on the suggestions made.

There is no right of appeal against the feedback provided and you should not use the complaints procedure should you disagree with a scientific or technical decision Innovate UK makes regarding your application.

Assessor confidentiality and potential conflicts of interest

All assessors have to sign confidentiality agreements and declare any potential conflicts of interest. 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 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: 21 October 2021

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