Women in Innovation Awards 2022/23 FAQs

Posted on: 18/08/2022
Inclusive Innovation

Catch up with the Women in Innovation Awards 2022/23 Briefing Event to learn more about the scope of the competition, eligibility criteria and support available. Watch the recording here.

Innovate UK’s Women in Innovation programme consists of an annual funding competition and events that enable brilliant women to fully achieve their visions for their business and change the world, while championing and celebrating gender diversity throughout UK innovation.

We hope these Frequently Asked Questions will be helpful to potential applicants for the Women In Innovation Awards 2022/23. If you have a query which is not covered below, or if any of the answers provided are unclear, please contact the Innovate UK Customer Support Service team. 


Is this award only available to business owners?

You must be a female founder, co-founder or senior decision maker within a UK registered micro or SME business to apply for this competition to make the most of the full package of support on offer.

My friend/co-founder and I are developing this business idea together, does that make me ineligible for this award?

Yes and No. The Women in Innovation competition is open to sole applicants only. However, more than one woman working within the same organisation can apply. The awards are for individuals, but this does not prevent you from working on the project with others.
Therefore, you need to decide who is going to be the sole applicant and take part in the programme if successful. Unfortunately, if it is unclear who the sole applicant is within your submission, you may be ineligible.

Given the NI protocol, will Northern Ireland applications be eligible?

Yes. We welcome and encourage applications from Northern Ireland as well as all regions of the UK.

Am I eligible to apply if I have received an Innovate UK grant?

You cannot have received other Innovate UK funding for the same project prior to applying. However, you are eligible to apply for the Women in Innovation competition with a different project.

Can I apply if I have previously received De minimis or Minimal Financial Assistance (MFA) funding?

Yes. As long as you have not maxed the allowance you are allowed under De minimis or MFA rules within the current 3-year period. You must declare any previous funding received under De minimis & MFA through the declaration form provided at application stage.

How can I check if previous grants I have received fall under De minimis or Minimal Financial Assistance rules?

You must check with the Public Authority that awarded your previous grants to confirm whether the grant awarded to you was classed as De minimis or MFA.

Am I able to apply for other Innovate UK grants if I am awarded the Women in Innovation funding?

Yes. However, you cannot receive funding for the same project twice.

How do you prove the business has existed for a year?

Your company does not need to have been registered on Companies House for a period of a year or more. However, you will need to provide financial accounts including a business bank account in the name of your business with transactions for a period greater than a year.

If your company and business accounts have been dormant in the last year, then your company was not actively trading for the last year, and so would not be eligible.

Why do you require companies to be operating for more than a year?

We are not looking to fund business as usual or a brand new start-up company, as this award is designed for an up-and-running company that is looking to make a step-change and would use the award to scale up and grow their innovative company, or looking to carry out an innovative project which would make the company a market leader.

The award is designed to help businesswomen achieve their vision for their business and become a leader in their field.

Can I apply if my business has been registered for more than a year, but I am not yet trading?

You will need to provide financial accounts including a business bank account in the name of your business with transactions for a period greater than a year.

HMRC considers that your company or organisation has not yet become active or started trading if it has not yet engaged in any business activity (business activity means carrying on a trade or profession or buying and selling goods or services with a view to making a profit or surplus), so no, you would not be able to apply.

Can I apply if I operate a charity?

Yes, but only if your charity has a registered business arm or business side, and this has been operating for a year or more. This would need to be registered as a company on Companies House. If your charity does not have a business operation, then you would not be eligible to apply.

Can I have collaborators?

Yes; however, the application should be about you as an individual, and should be written and submitted by you. You can mention how you plan to work with collaborators, but the award is for you. If it is unclear who the individual applicant is within your submission, you may be made ineligible.

Are sole traders eligible to apply?

Yes, if all the other eligibility criteria are met.

Do you have to be a UK citizen to apply?

No, but you must be resident in the UK, carry out your project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results from your work in the UK.


Is there a deadline for applications?

The Women in Innovation competition will close on the 19th of October 2022 at 11:00am precisely. Extensions to this deadline cannot and will NOT be granted under any circumstances, even in the situation where, let’s say you have technical issues 10mins before the application deadline.

Where can I apply?

On the Innovate UK Applications Page – click here to apply (deadline 19th October 2022 at 11am).

Will the production values of the submitted video be judged in any way? E.g. storytelling, editing, etc?

No. The assessors will be scoring your videos (for Question 8) but this is not based on editing, background music or story telling abilities. You must use Pitchtape to record your video and then provide a link in your application. It must be no longer than 3 minutes. If your video is over 3 minutes long, only the first 3 minutes will be used to assess your application.

Please note: If the assessors are unable to view your video, your application will be made ineligible. The video must remain available until 01 April 2023.

I’m keen to apply – where can I find the support I need as a disabled woman innovator?

Innovate UK is committed to making support for innovation more accessible and inclusive. If you have any barriers to applying due to a disability or long-term condition, please don’t hesitate to get in touch with Innovate UK’s Customer Support Services Team on 0300 321 4357 or support@iuk.ukri.org.

If you know what you need, please tell us how best we can support you. We’ll be in touch and do our best to provide that support.

If you’re not sure, we can discuss the support available with you in order to better understand your needs and determine how we can help.

Please note: so that we can provide the best support possible, we encourage you to get in touch as early as possible during the application process – within the first week of the competition opening, if possible.

What would you recommend focusing on in my application? What do unsuccessful applicants typically miss or get wrong?

To fit the competition, your project must address a problem, be innovative, meet the eligibility criteria, and have a realistic plan. Unsuccessful applicants typically leave the application to the very last minute, don’t fill the forms correctly, have lots of missing information, forget to include their video link, do not provide sufficient evidence in the application, or do not follow the instructions. Also, claiming more than £50k in grant funding will make your application ineligible.

We encourage you to submit your application well ahead of the deadline and to read it several times before doing so. You might also consider having a trusted friend, family member, or advisor take a look at it before submitting to ensure that it is as complete and comprehensive as it can be.

Can I apply with a business idea which I previously submitted to last year’s Women In Innovation competition or any other competitions?

Yes. You can use a previously submitted application, if you did not receive a Women in Innovation Award previously, or other Innovate UK funding for the same idea, and you meet the eligibility criteria for this competition. Before doing so, please read through the additional details under the previous applications section of the application form.

Also, if you received feedback on your previously submitted application, we do encourage you to take it into account before submitting the same idea for this competition. However, please note that it is most likely that different assessors would review your new application and therefore there is no guarantee your application will score higher even if all feedback is addressed.

Is there a competition helpline?

If you need more information, you can contact Innovate UK directly for all competition enquiries via email at support@iuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357. Phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).


Can you tell me more about the support package that is offered alongside the grant?

The package of support will be delivered by:

  • Innovate UK KTN
  • Innovate UK EDGE
  • The Catapults
  • Other Partner Organisations

The expert advice available includes, but is not limited to:

  • funding and finance options and how to access these, including introductions to investors and training on pitching
  • media and communications, such as branding
  • intellectual property
  • developing new business models
  • evaluating market opportunities
  • finding new partners
  • growth and scale up
  • developing international collaborations and accessing global markets
  • business planning strategy
  • Access to relevant world-leading facilities and equipment will also be provided where this is appropriate.

You will also be introduced to Senior Business Mentors and Women in Innovation ambassadors within the Innovate UK KTN network as part of your award, as well as receiving press and media support to become a leading role model in innovation.

Each support package is bespoke to the individual.

When is our Women in Innovation project expected to start?

Your project is expected to start on 01 April 2023 and end on 31 March 2024. Peer support and collaboration is a key element of the award, as is the expert support from Innovate UK Edge, Innovate UK KTN and the Catapults, therefore the Women in Innovation has a set start and end point that all award holders must adhere to, and this should be reflected within your application.

Please note: Entering an incorrect project start date will result in your application being made ineligible.

Am I able to use this grant to hire consultants or subcontractors?

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition and must be selected through a participant’s normal procurement process. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK. If an overseas subcontractor is selected, a case must be made as to why no UK-based subcontractor can be used including a detailed rationale, evidence of UK companies that have been approached and reasons why they were unable to do so. A cheaper cost is not deemed as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

What can the funding be used for?

The funding will be provided under Minimal Financial Assistance rules or De minimis rules where applicable. You cannot use the award to match fund for other competitions as it is considered to be public funding and cannot be used to secure other forms of Subsidy or State aid. You cannot use the award as matched funding for other competitions, as this award would be counted as State Aid, and could not be used to secure more state aid. The award should help to strengthen your position to secure additional investment.

For additional information on de minimis funding you can visit: https://www.ukri.org/councils/innovate-uk/guidance-for-applicants/general-guidance/funding-rules/#contents-list

We are not funding projects that:

  • do not intend to use the full package of support on offer
  • have a negative impact on the environment or society
  • have a detrimental effect on equality, diversity and inclusion
  • do not involve any research and development or innovation, for example, the creation of information-only websites
  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • involve exports or imports
  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  •  include activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • projects not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not allowed under Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance – for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage – for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product.

Note: Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian source.

Examples of projects from previous award holders include a blood test to allow earlier diagnosis of ovarian cancer, wearable tech that acts like your own physio, and ‘leather’ made from garden waste. The winners’ game-changing innovations are tackling some of society’s biggest issues.

Do I have to use the non-financial element of the award?

Yes. This is an essential part of the support on offer.

We want to know how you will make use of the full award package: financial and non-financial and this will be assessed under Question 11 on the application form: Plan for the award. For example, you can use the money funded through the award to pull in more support and make money from this money. Leverage other investments; it’s not just the money that makes the scheme important but the advice and support you receive as well.

How much is the total award?

£50,000. You must enter your full project costs and make sure that the funding you are claiming is no more than £50,000.

Is the £50,000 award 100% funded?


How will I receive the money?

We have allocated up to £2.5 million for up to 50 awards at £50,000 each.

The funding will be paid in 3 increments:

  • £33,333 upfront in April 2023
  • £11,667 at the mid-point in October 2023
  • £5,000 at the end of your project on receipt of a completed statement of expenditure by April 2024.

The individual will receive the money into a business bank account. Therefore, you can only apply if you are a senior member of your organisation e.g. if you are the CEO or someone in a senior decision-making position.

Does the project supported by the scheme have to run for 12 months?

Yes, the award will support activities over a 12-month period. You could not obtain all the funding up-front, however, you could run multiple small projects or initiatives over the year period, which all combine to produce a step-change in your company.

When do I need to start my project and what is the duration of the project?

You must confirm on your application form that you can start your project on 01 April 2023 and be of 12 months’ duration or your application would be made ineligible.

Are the bootcamps in person, or have these been moved to an online/hybrid delivery style since COVID-19?

The first bootcamp for the most recent cohort has been held as a virtual event following the standard COVID-19 rules in the UK. However, the second one is being held in-person, being made accessible to those who are not able to physically attend. We will continue to make sure that all Programme related events are as accessible as possible to every Award holder, regardless their life circumstances at that moment in time. All Award holders will be informed regarding all programme activities in a timely manner.


What are we looking to fund?

We want to support women who are at a critical stage with their business, where an award will enable them to take an important step forward. The funding should help them make a real difference to innovation in the UK, including in and beyond their sector or innovation area.

We are looking for women who have the potential to be leaders and role models to inspire other women.

We are looking for women who clearly explain how they will benefit from the full package of funding and support on offer and who can describe how this will add value to them and their business.

How do you select the Women in Innovation award holders from the hundreds of applications you receive?

We follow a very detailed and thorough process working with a team of experienced assessors. Every aspect of each application is carefully reviewed and evaluated against a common list of criteria and multiple assessors review the same application to ensure that the outcome is as consistent and fair as it can be.

You can find more information about the standard assessment process in this outline video about how Innovate UK assessors assess.

Many grants take in consideration applicants’ locations, is there any quotas when it comes to where we’re based in the UK?

No. There are no quotas. We are looking to fund a portfolio of business ideas. We will select a portfolio of award winners who:

  • have high potential to be future leaders in innovation or successful entrepreneurs and inspirational role model to others
  • are most likely to benefit from the package of support on offer
  • represent a diverse range of innovative ideas for business
  • are located throughout the UK

When will I know if I have been successful with my application? 

You will be informed by Innovate UK of the outcome of your application on 21 December 2022.

Other resources and support

Is support available for those who are not eligible to apply?

There is support available to those not eligible. The best way to access this is by contacting Innovate UK, Innovate UK KTN or Innovate UK EDGE directly and we will advise on what else we can offer you.

The Women in Innovation programme features broader support and opportunities to our community through our Let’s Talk About and Meet the Woman Innovator series, Founders4Schools partnerships, as well as a range of other activities. To find out more we recommend you visit our programme page (here), or sign up for the newsletter (here).

Are there any examples of previously successful applications that you are able to share?

Yes. Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN have created booklets and brochures to celebrate the women in innovation programme, showcasing the award winners. You can access them via the links below.

You can also read the success stories of 19 of our remarkable 2020/21 Women in Innovation awardees to learn about how their ground-breaking ideas are helping manage the world’s greatest challenges here.

I am putting an application together for the Women in Innovation competition, are there any other resources or support available?

Yes. Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN hosted a formal briefing event on the 18th August 2022. The event outlined the scope and eligibility of the competition, offered advice on how to apply, as well as the chance to delegates to ask questions and hear from inspiring previous award winners and leaders in the business innovation area. We recommend anyone who is interested in applying to watch the recording (which will be posted at the event page here soon after the event).

We are also offering two additional Q&A drop-in sessions aimed at:

  • Supplementing the official Innovate UK guidance
  • Answering to any questions you might have regarding the application process

Is there a Women in Innovation competitions helpline?

If you need more information you can contact Innovate UK directly for all competition enquiries. Email them at support@iuk.ukri.org or call the competition helpline on 0300 321 4357. Our phone lines are open from 9am to 5pm, Monday to Friday (excluding bank holidays).

How can I know more about the Women in Innovation community?

Please visit the Women in Innovation programme page on the Innovate UK KTN website. You can also subscribe to the Women in Innovation newsletter here.


Ready to make an impact? Start your application now.

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Women in Innovation Awards 2022/23

Opens: 22/08/2022 Closes: 19/10/2022

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