Smart Grants funding guidance - Innovate UK

The Smart Grants programme is designed to bring original, high-impact innovations into the marketplace. The innovation must have a solid strategy to generate considerable economic benefits for the UK.

The grants are available to all industry and technology areas from science and engineering to the creative industries.

The Smart Grants programme is always open for businesses to apply, with quarterly funding rounds each year.

These grants are subject to strict eligibility criteria.

Eligibility criteria

Each competition will have specific criteria and guidelines attached to the brief.

You must also meet these Smart Grants criteria before applying:

  • all applicants must be UK-registered companies and carry out their project activities in the UK
  • the project must include at least one small or medium-sized enterprise
  • the innovation should be completely new and ahead of anything similar on the market
  • applicants must be able to demonstrate a clear and sizeable market need
  • applicants must provide a robust and deliverable plan for quick and successful commercialisation

Your idea should be one of the following:

  • a completely new product, service or process
  • a brand-new use for an existing product, service or process

Businesses that do not meet these criteria can search for other types of innovation support and advice.

How to apply

New Smart Grants opportunities are published on the Innovation Funding Service when they are available. You must check the specific criteria and guidelines published with each funding competition.

Businesses will need to register and apply using the Innovation Funding Service.

Applicants must provide details on how the innovation will contribute to the UK’s economic growth, including job creation, market expansion, and overall economic prosperity.

How we will assess your application

We will look for the following when assessing your application:

  • an outline of the need identified and how the innovation meets it
  • an explanation of why the grant is important to your project development
  • evidence of a clear market that will want to buy and use the final product, process or service
  • how you will access and exploit the market

Full details of how we assess the applications, including an assessor matrix, will be in the competition brief.

Your application will be assessed by three independent assessors. All three of the scores awarded will count towards the total score used to make the funding decision.

The standard Innovate UK ‘outlier’ process does not apply.

The final decision regarding a grant offer will ultimately rest with Innovate UK.

Exceptions process

For Smart Grants April 2024 and all subsequent Smart Grants competitions (until further notice), the exception process for assessment will be as follows.

If the highest or lowest score is 30% or 18 marks away from the next closest score and the funding decision is impacted, we will review your application against this exceptions process.

We will look for one or more of the following:

  • if an assessor marking no to ‘recommend for funding’ is subsequently judged by us not to have marked the questions on the merit of the responses or taken into account the guidance provided
  • if Innovate UK determines the verified assessor skills and content of the application are not an appropriate match

If we identify one or more of these, we will replace that assessment.

Ask a question about the Smart Grants programme



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Last updated: 23 July 2024

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