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Eligibility for funding

Innovate UK

Innovate UK funds business led innovation,  All kinds of businesses can apply - from pre-startup and new companies to large multi-nationals.   Universities and research organisations are also eligible for funding where they are working in partnership with a UK Business, on a project led by a business.

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.

Detailed eligibility criteria varies between funding opportunities - for full information see Innovate UK funding guidance: Business innovation: what funding you can apply for

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

UK Higher Education - 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.

Research Institutes - The Research Councils have established a long-term investment as major funder to a number of research Institutes, all of which are eligible for grant funding from all Research Councils. See a list of these eligible Institutes (PDF, 17KB).

NHS Bodies - with research capacity (the Board, NHS Clinical Commissioning Group, NHS Special Authority, NHS Trust, NHS Foundation Trust, NHS Local Health Board) are eligible to apply as lead applicants for all RC’s. See further guidance on eligible costs (PDF, 279KB).

For NHS and Research Institutes you are advised to check with the Je-S helpdesk that your Organisation is set up correctly to use the Je-S System. Phone +44 (0) 1793 44 4164 or Email: JeSHelp@je-s.ukri.org

Public Sector Research Establishments – The Department for Business Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS) have given approval for organisations which pass UKRI’s definition of Public Sector Research Establishments (PSREs) to be eligible to apply against a limited number of Research Council opportunities, e.g. the Strategic Priorities Fund (SPF). 

Other Organisations - may also be eligible to become an Independent Research Organisation (IRO) 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 (PDF, 183KB).

Innovate UK Catapult Centres - do not currently meet the research councils’ eligibility criteria. Further information can be found below.

Before you apply

If your organisation wishes to apply for eligibility to be able to apply for UKRI funding as either an Independent Research Organisation (IRO), Public Sector Research Establishment (PSRE)  or Research Institute, please check that it is not already listed as an RO, PSRE or Research Institute:

Note: From 01 November 2016 the Research Councils introduced a change of eligibility status for ROs. Any organisation, approved at the time, as an RO for one Research Council was automatically eligible for all Research Councils. This change applied to all calls announced after 1 November 2016 and covered both responsive and directive modes of funding. Therefore any successful application will now result in the organisation being eligible for all RC’s.  

How to apply for eligibility

Any organisations wishing to apply as a Research Organisation (RO), or Research Institute must complete and return the following two forms:

For any organisations wishing to apply as a Public Sector Research Establishment, two forms must be completed – the form to apply for PSRE status (below) and FEC Questionnaire (Above):

Once completed, all forms should be submitted together, to grantssystemsupport@funding.ukri.org.

The assessment involves consideration by the nominated Research Council, as well as by the UKRI Funding Assurance Team.  Following assessment, the application then undergoes a final authorisation by the Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy (BEIS). It is advised that applications are submitted well in advance of the need for funding due to the complex nature of this process.

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 is 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 (For ESRC, please see rules on eligibility for Co-Investigators).

To view the guidance that individual organisations within UKRI are providing to their communities, follow the links below:

Research council financial and capability due diligence checking process

Exceptionally, specific calls may be set up 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. In these circumstances’ organisations will be required to undertake due diligence checks by the UKRI Funding Assurance team.

Due diligence guidance for UK research organisations collaborating overseas

Due Diligence guidance (PDF, 269KB) 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

UKRI has 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.

Eight Mental Health Networks have been set up by UKRI to bring researchers, charities and other organisations together to address important mental health research questions. Read more about the networks here.