General guidance - Innovate UK


Your application

The application process

Innovate UK typically runs two types of application process for funding awards.

These are:

  • An online application process through our digital Innovation Funding Service.
  • A document-based file transfer protocol (FTP) application process.

The following sections outline the differences in the 2 processes.

Apply on the Innovation Funding Service

The Innovation Funding Service is an online application process. You need to create an account in the service to start an application, or sign in to your existing account.

Applications are separated into sections, which all need to be completed to submit your application. You cannot submit an application unless you have correctly completed each section.

Applications not submitted via the Innovation Funding Service or which are sent by email will not be accepted.

Please note that once you submit your application, the process cannot be reversed.

Full guidance for completing each section is found within the service.

Collaborating in the Innovation Funding Service

Many Innovate UK competitions require organisations to work with others on collaborative research and development projects.

The collaboration rules are stated in the eligibility section of the guidance for each funding opportunity. 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.

Lead applicants

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

  • starting an application
  • adding people from your organisation to the application and removing them
  • adding partner organisations you wish to collaborate with and removing them
    assigning questions
  • answering questions relevant to you
  • reviewing answers given by team members
  • submitting the application before the deadline
  • accepting the terms and conditions on behalf of your organisation
  • uploading permitted appendices.

You should only add people who are directly involved in the project. If your project wants to change who is leading the application, the new person will need to start a new application.

Partner organisations

Partner organisations are invited to join an application by the lead applicant. They will receive an email invitation from the Innovation Funding Service and will need to either:

  • accept the invitation and create an account
  • sign in to an existing account.

As a partner you are responsible for:

  • completing 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
  • 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 financial details of any of the other organisations involved in the application. They can only view their own.

Partners are not able to:

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

Apply for a file transfer protocol (FTP) funding opportunity

A few funding opportunities, such as some of the international competitions, are not yet able to use the Innovation Funding Service. These will use a secure FTP site.

Funding opportunities using the FTP application process will prompt you to register to apply online. If you are the lead or sole applicant, you will need to register using the link on the competition guidance page.

Registration closes at midday one week before the submission deadline. Registrations are not accepted after this time.

Your username and password

When you register you will receive an email from Innovate UK containing your:

  • username
  • password
  • unique application form
  • secure FTP site URL.

As applications contain sensitive information they must be submitted using the process below. Applications submitted by email or after the competition deadline are not accepted.

When you click on the URL (or paste it into your address bar) you will be taken to the public download area of the secure FTP site. This area will include downloadable documents for the competition. To submit your application you need to sign in to the site with your username and password.

If you cannot see the log in tab, you must zoom out. You can do this by holding down the ctrl key and either scrolling with the mouse wheel or pressing the minus (-) key.

If you want to apply more than once, you must ask for more application forms by email before the registration deadline. You must provide your application number in your email. Late applications will not be considered.

Ask for more application forms

Uploading your documents

The funding opportunity you are applying for will provide guidance on uploading documents and file naming conventions.

For submissions through FTP, Innovate UK uses secure sites such as https for you to upload your application and appendices safely. Secure sites enable information between your browser and our server to be encrypted and decrypted.

If you need additional help or support

Innovate UK is committed to making support for applicants accessible to everyone.
We can provide help for applicants who face barriers when making an application. This might be as a result of a disability, neurodiversity or anything else that makes it difficult to use our services. We can also give help and make other reasonable adjustments for you if your application is successful. If you think you need more support, it is important that you contact the Innovation Funding Service as early as possible during your application process.

You should aim to contact us no later than 10 working days before the competition closing date.

Last updated: 17 August 2021

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