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Eligibility for funding

Innovate UK

You can apply for Innovate UK  funding if you are a UK based business. All kinds of businesses can apply - from pre-startup and new companies to large multi-nationals.

You can apply for funding if you want to do one or more of the following:

  • to test the feasibility of your idea and make sure it will work
  • create a new product, process or service, or improve an existing one, through research and development
  • work with other businesses or research organisations on collaborative projects

Before you apply

To get a grant you have to apply through a funding competition.

Details about each competition and the technical scope are published on the Innovate UK website. You should read the scope information carefully before you apply. You can also attend a briefing event or webinar to find out more about the competition.

Eligibility rules vary for each competition. Please read them carefully before applying. For example, some competitions need projects to be collaborative with a business partner as the lead applicant.

For full information see Innovate UK funding guidance:

Research Councils

All UK Higher Education Institutions that receive grant funding from one of the UK higher education funding bodies are eligible to receive funds for research, postgraduate training and associated activities.

Other independent research organisations (IROs) may also be eligible if they possess an existing in-house capacity to carry out research that materially extends and enhances the national research base and are able to demonstrate an independent capability to undertake and lead research programmes. They must also satisfy other criteria related to their financial and legal status: these are set out in full in the Research Councils' joint statement on eligibility, which can be viewed here (PDF, 183KB).

The current list of eligible IROs can be seen here (PDF, 152KB) (  (Word, 24KB)

Information for IROs on how to apply for eligibility

Any organisation wishing to apply for IRO status should contact the Je-S helpdesk in the first instance. The Je-S helpdesk will then advise you of the process and send the appropriate documentation to be completed. When e-mailing the helpdesk for this purpose please include “Application for IRO Status” in the subject heading and provide the full name and postal address of your organisation.

Details of how to contact the Helpdesk can be found in the contacts page.

Change to Organisational Eligibility for Independent Research Organisations (IROs) and NHS Bodies

From 01 November 2016 the Research Councils introduced a change of eligibility status for Independent Research Organisations (IROs).  Any organisation currently approved as an IRO for one Research Council is now eligible for all Research Councils.

The change is implemented for all calls announced after 1 November 2016 and covers both responsive and directive modes of funding.

NHS bodies with research capacity (the Board, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Special Authority, NHS Trust, NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Local Health Board) currently eligible to apply as lead applicants, will also be eligible to apply as lead applicants for all RCs. Further guidance on eligible costs can be found here (PDF, 279KB) (PDF, 279KB).

Eligibility of Innovate UK Catapult Centres

Catapult Centres do not currently meet the Research Councils’ eligibility criteria for Independent Research Organisations as they have been established by the public sector as detailed in the Research Councils' joint statement on eligibility. Organisations that are eligible to apply for RCUK research funding may work in partnership or collaboration with any other organisation, irrespective of its eligibility status, this includes Catapult Centres. This as a key way of ensuring academic-Catapult collaboration. Catapult Centres may be named contractors within research grants, and for some Research Councils, their staff may be eligible as Co-Investigators (See ESRC and MRC rules on eligibility for Co-Investigators).

To view the guidance that individual Research Councils are providing to their communities, follow the links below:

Eligibility of Research Council Institutes

The Research Councils have established a long-term investment as major funder in the following research institutes, all of which are eligible for grant funding from all Research Councils:

  • Alan Turing Institute
  • Babraham Institute
  • John Innes Centre
  • Earlham Institute
  • Rothamsted Research
  • The Pirbright Institute
  • The Faraday Institution
  • The Francis Crick Institute
  • MRC Laboratory of Molecular Biology
  • MRC London Institute of Medical Sciences
  • National Oceanographic Centre
  • NERC British Antarctic Survey
  • NERC British Geological Survey
  • NERC Centre for Ecology and Hydrology
  • Plymouth Marine Laboratory
  • Quadram Institute Bioscience
  • Scottish Association for Marine Sciences
  • Diamond Light Source Ltd
  • Isaac Newton Group
  • Joint Astronomy Centre
  • UK Astronomy Technology Centre
  • STFC - Laboratories

Research Council Financial and Capability Due Diligence Checking Process

Exceptionally, where co-funding is being provided by another funder, individual Research Councils may set up specific calls inviting proposals from overseas or UK research organisations not normally eligible for Research Council funding. It will be made clear in the specific call guidance which organisations may apply. The eligibility of the research organisation to receive funding will be confirmed by the individual Research Council before a grant is awarded using the process found here (PDF, 429KB)

Due Diligence guidance for UK Research Organisations

Due Diligence guidance (PDF, 739KB) is available to provide guidance on requirements when undertaking research in partnership with overseas research organisations. It is not intended to set rigid rules, but to enable Research Organisations to develop their own policies and processes which are commensurate with their risk appetite and the type of research being undertaken.

Cross-disciplinary mental health research agenda

The Research Councils (AHRC, BBSRC, EPSRC, ESRC, MRC, NERC and STFC) collectively have an interest in mental health research from a medical, biological, environmental, cultural, societal, technical and historical perspective. We have worked together to develop a cross-disciplinary research agenda (PDF, 219KB), to articulate opportunities for cross-disciplinary working. This document is not a strategy for mental health research, nor is it trying to address the full scope of what is a broad field of research with other funders and organisations playing a part in its delivery.