General guidance - Innovate UK


Your application

The application process

Apply on the Innovation Funding Service

You can apply for a competition online using the Innovation Funding Service (PDF, 284KB). View a list of our current competitions on the Innovation Funding Service.

You need to create an account in the service to start an application, or sign in to your existing account. We would recommend using a professional email address associated with your organisation.

If you need to change a personal email address to your professional email address your company director must send us an email including their email signature stating the change of email. You are not able to change your email address in the service.

Your application is split into sections, which must all be completed in order to submit your application. Applications not submitted through the Innovation Funding Service or which are sent by email will not be accepted.

Applications can be re-opened once submitted but must be re-submitted ahead of the deadline for the application to progress. Full guidance for completing each section is found within the service.

Lead applicants

The lead applicant represents the lead organisation for the application. As the lead applicant you will be responsible for:

  • starting an application
  • inviting people from your organisation to the application and removing them
  • inviting partner organisations you wish to collaborate with, where applicable, and removing them
  • assigning questions to other participants
  • answering questions relevant to you
  • reviewing answers provided by any of the team
  • ensuring the terms and conditions are accepted by both all parties (where applicable)
  • ensuring appendices, where available, are uploaded
  • submitting the application before the deadline

You should only invite people who are directly involved in the project. It is not possible to change the lead applicant on the innovation funding service, a new application will need to be started by a new lead applicant.

Collaborating in the Innovation Funding Service

Many Innovate UK competitions allow or require organisations to work in partnerships, with other organisations on collaborative research and development projects.

The collaboration rules for a competition, are stated in the eligibility section of the guidance. This section outlines the different roles of organisations who intend to work collaboratively in completing an application and setting up a project on the service.

Partner organisations

Partner organisations are invited to join an application by the lead applicant. Invited partners will receive an email invitation from

They will need to accept the invitation within 48 hours and create an account on the Innovation Funding Service or sign into an existing account.

Partners will then need to provide the information necessary to complete their part of the application. All inboxes, including junk and spam folders, should be checked for the invitation email.

As a partner you are responsible for:

  • completing eligible project costs and finance details for your organisation
  • inviting other people from your organisation to help with the application
  • answering questions assigned to you by the lead applicant and uploading any necessary appendices
  • accepting the terms and conditions for your organisation

Partners can see:

  • all application questions and answers
  • their own organisation’s finance details
  • the application finance summary

Neither the lead applicant nor partners can view the detailed finances of any of the other organisations involved in the application. They can only view the overall eligible project costs in the application finance summary and their own detailed finances.

Partners are not able to:

  • start an application
  • invite people from other organisations
  • assign questions
  • submit the application

If you need additional help or support

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.

We welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds and are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes making reasonable adjustments, for people who have a disability or a long-term condition and face barriers applying to us.

You can contact us at any time to ask for guidance.

We recommend you contact us at least 15 working days before the competition’s closing date to allow us to put the most suitable support in place. The support we can provide may be limited if you contact us close to the competition deadline.

You can contact Innovate UK by email or call 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9:00am to midday and 2:00pm to 5:00pm UK time, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

Competition deadline

Your application automatically closes on the competition deadline and we will not enter into any discussion regarding late submissions. If you have missed the submission deadline for a competition, you will have to wait until the next round or apply to a different competition that you and your project are eligible for.

All competitions close at 11:00am UK time on the deadline stated in the competition brief on the Innovation Funding Service. We cannot guarantee other government or third party sites will always show the correct competition information.

Our customer support team can help prior to the deadline if you are having problems completing your application.

If you are experiencing difficulties submitting your application you must contact the support team at to allow your issue to be logged before the competition deadline. If we have no recorded interaction with you, with details of what has prevented you from submitting on time, we are unable to investigate further.

If our investigation draws the conclusion that Innovate UK is at fault, your application will be progressed further in the competition.

If our investigations determine it is user error, then we will not progress your application and you will be asked to apply into a future round or another competition.

We consider the following to be issues caused by Innovate UK:

  • you are unable to submit due to the competition being setup incorrectly
  • the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) site is down for a considerable amount of time immediately before the competition deadline
  • any other issue that is clearly identified as being a problem caused by Innovate UK

We will not consider valid reasons for late submission, issues such as:

  • poor internet connection
  • poor quality equipment
  • any questions not being fully completed by all consortium members
  • the terms and conditions not being accepted by all consortium members
  • the eligible project costs not being completed by all consortium members

It is your responsibility as the lead applicant to check over the application in good time to ensure you are able to submit the application before the deadline.

It is your responsibility to make sure your application form and all questions are completed in full before the competition deadline. The IFS is built to accommodate many different Innovate UK competitions and will not prompt you with an error if you have not completed something in full.

We hold a data log of all user interactions within the IFS, this includes time and date stamps of when applications are accessed, buttons are clicked and applications are submitted.

As we always emphasise, please do not leave it until the last minute to submit your application and ensure all partners have marked all of their sections as complete.


Support team


Last updated: 12 July 2024

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