Innovation loans - Innovate UK


The application process

Loan competitions will be run through our Innovation Funding Service. To find a current loan competition, search for ‘loan’ in the Innovation Funding Service’s keywords search bar.

Loan competitions may be open to any type of project, or they may be themed. In a themed loan competition, your innovation project will need to fit the specific scope criteria outlined in that competition brief. If your innovation project does not meet these criteria then you will not be eligible to apply for this specific opportunity.

Once a loan competition has closed you will no longer be able to apply into it. Only one application is permitted from a business per loan competition.

Applying for an innovation loan

There are three parts to applying for an innovation loan. The part of the application on the Innovation Funding Service will be used to assess how innovative the project is.

Another part of the application, in the form of a survey, will be used to consider the whole business and how suitable that business is for an innovation loan.

Business and financial information

This includes a link from the Innovation Funding Service to questions, in the format of a survey, that you must answer about your business and to a spreadsheet template that you must fill in to provide financial information about your business for the full period of your loan request.

Project questions

These are questions that you must answer about your proposed innovation project.

Project finances

This is information about the costs of your proposed innovation project.

Before you start

You will need to create an Innovation Funding Service account before you can apply for an innovation loan.

You can invite other people from your organisation and assign questions to them.

Your application on the Innovation Funding Service

Business and financial information

The business information part of the application will be used by us to consider the suitability of your business for a loan. This will take the form of a survey that you will need to complete online. As part of this, we will use the start-up high growth index that has been developed by Early Metrics to provide qualitative and quantitative information about your business.

In this part of the application, you will be expected to answer questions about your business and its ability to pay interest and repay a loan.

Within your answers to the questions you will need to outline your preferred loan conditions and explain why you need an innovation loan for the amount and time requested.

The questions include a mixture of:

  • requests for specific information (for example on monthly revenues or number of employees)
  • selection of category responses (for example on the stage of development of your product or service)
  • self-assessment scoring (for example on the level of important challenges to your growth)
  • text (for example to allow you to provide a description of your business model).

The financial information submission part of the application will also be used by us to consider the suitability of your business for a loan. This will take the form of a spreadsheet template that you should download and complete offline and then upload at the end of the business information survey.

You must use the template provided to complete the financial information submission form.

In the financial information submission form you will need to provide us with:

  • historical financial information (your profit and loss and balance sheet) for the last three years (or since incorporation, if shorter)
  • forecast financial information (your profit and loss, balance sheet and cashflow forecasts) for the full period of your proposed innovation loan.

The spreadsheet template has input cells in “repayment calculator” worksheets that will allow you to enter your proposed loan periods and quarterly drawdown amounts, which will pre-populate information about the innovation loan in the profit and loss, balance sheet and cashflow forecasts.

The template also has input cells for sales, cost of sales and gross margins in a “sales assumptions” worksheet that will allow you to enter your assumptions and which will pre-populate information in the profit and loss forecasts, if this is helpful to you.

The template also has worksheets that will calculate the ‘grant equivalent’ of your proposed innovation loan.

The core worksheets in the financial information submission form have a number of cells for calculations that cannot be changed. This is so that we can ensure the accuracy of important calculations. There are also some built-in checks, for example, to highlight if the balance sheet does not balance. Additional information can be provided in extra tabs in the spreadsheet.

We look for applications that show:

  • an appropriate borrowing proposal from a suitable business
  • a clear route to commercial success
  • a strong management team
  • why you need public funding in order to be able to carry out your project
  • why you are unable to fund the project from your own resources or other forms of private-sector funding such as equity investment, commercial lending or lending supported by the British Business Bank and other similar agencies.

Project information

In the project proposal part of your application, you will be expected to answer questions on the details of your proposed project. You will also need to provide details of the costs for your project.

We look for project proposals that:

  • are highly innovative
  • have strong market potential
  • show solid delivery capability
  • have a clear route to commercial success
  • represent value for money for the business and the taxpayer.

You will need to answer all mandatory scored and unscored sections in order for us to assess the quality and suitability of your application. The specific loan competition guidance will elaborate on the type of information we are seeking under each section.

Submitting an application for an innovation loan

A person with authority to act on behalf of the company must submit the application.

Your business and financial information and your project proposal must be submitted through the Innovation Funding Service.

If you have any difficulties in submitting your application

Contact customer support services

Telephone: 0300 321 4357

Please note that by submitting an application, you are providing authority for Innovate UK, or any subsidiary or agent acting on our behalf, to undertake checks on the financial standing of your business.

This might include but will not be limited to checks with credit reference agencies (which might be recorded on your record) to determine your credit standing, identity, beneficial ownership and control, and source of existing funds.

To find out how we handle your personal information please see Innovate UK’s personal information charter.


By submitting an application for an innovation loan, you will be confirming that you agree to the innovation loans declaration that is included in the competition brief on the Innovation Funding Service.

This declaration recognises that entering into a loan agreement with us is a significant financial commitment. It requires you to confirm that:

  • the loan is for business purposes, is the right approach to financing your business, and that you have authority to make this assessment
  • you consent to any necessary and relevant financial checks, including checks on key persons in the business
  • you understand that any information provided in the application that is proven to be false or misleading may lead to a breach of the loan agreement
  • you understand that an innovation loan agreement is not a regulated agreement under the Financial Services and Markets Act 2000 or the Consumer Credit Act 1974 and is not subject to the same benefits or protections
  • you understand that it is a legally binding obligation and that you should seek independent advice.

You should consider taking independent advice on the content of this declaration.

Summary heads of terms

By submitting an application you will confirm that you have read and agree to the innovation loans summary heads of terms. These are part of the terms and conditions you will agree to during your application.

The summary heads of terms describe the main terms that apply to an innovation loan agreement with Innovate UK Loans Ltd. They provide an outline that reflects the typical nature of the loan agreement that Innovate UK Loans Ltd would consider making available.

The summary heads of terms for innovation loans:

  • act as written confirmation of the main terms of the innovation loan
  • outline the parties involved and their obligations relating to the innovation loan.

These terms are subject to detailed due diligence.

Please note, the summary heads of terms are indicative and not exhaustive. If required, they may be amended or withdrawn at any time. You should read the heads of terms carefully and take the time to understand them, including seeking independent advice.

Last updated: 5 January 2024

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