Future Economy Investor Partnerships SME round 1
UK registered SMEs, invited to apply by an investor from our pool of selected investor partners, can apply for grant funding alongside private investment.
Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, has selected a pool of investor partners. These investor partners have demonstrated that they have the credibility, capability, capacity and appetite to invest in innovative, technology-led businesses that align with our programmes. These programmes will focus on the Future Economy sectors of Net Zero, Health and Wellbeing, Next-Generation Digital Technologies, and equality, diversity and inclusion.
The Future Economy Investor Partnership Programme brings together:
- Innovate UK’s expertise in identifying innovation and using grant funding to change the risk profile of businesses
- investor partners’ aligned funding and expertise in identifying opportunities and teams that can best use extra investment finance
This approach aims to provide you with support for research and development and access to the capital investment you need to develop and commercialise your innovations.
To participate in the programme, first, we recommend contacting Innovate UK EDGE for support in understanding your readiness for investment and to look at your wider strategy for growth. This programme encourages SMEs to be ready for investment and have the willingness to engage with our list of Investor Partners. If you are ready for investment and need support finding a potential investment partner, contact Innovate UK KTN’s Investment team.
Innovate UK provides support for your investment readiness and for engaging with suitable investors via Innovate UK Edge and Innovate UK KTN. You should also contact Innovate UK KTN to establish if there are specific programmes for connecting businesses in your sector to relevant investors. Support and connections to sector-specific investors may also be provided by the appropriate Catapult Centre.
You will need to establish a relationship and a level of investment traction with one of our approved investor partners before you apply for funding. A full list of selected investor partners is provided at Innovate UK Investor Partners – UKRI and Innovate UK KTN Investor Partnerships websites.
The investor partner must have confirmed with you that you are in a position to apply for grant funding as you will be asked to identify them in the application.
To be successful, your project must be independently assessed by Innovate UK as fundable and receive investment directly, led or catalysed by the Investor Partner.
The eligibility criteria will depend on your research category.
For feasibility studies projects:
- your total project costs must be between £50,000 and £300,000
- the project duration must be between 6 and 12 months
For industrial research projects:
- your total project costs must be between £100,000 and £1 million
- the project duration must be between 6 and 24 months
For experimental development projects:
- your total project costs must be between £250,000 and £2 million
- the project duration must be between 12 and 24 months
To apply your organisation must:
- be a UK registered micro, small or medium sized business (SME)
- carry out its project work in or from the UK
- intend to exploit the results in or from the UK
- have discussed and agreed your proposal with your investor partner before submitting your application
You can only submit one application into this round of the competition.
You will only receive grant funding from Innovate UK if you also receive a minimum level of investment that has been led by your investor partner.
For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, Innovate UK will fund:
- up to 70% of eligible project costs for micro or small organisations
- up to 60% for medium sized organisations
The investment led by the investor partner must always be at least equal to the grant funding.
For experimental development projects Innovate UK will fund:
- up to 45% of eligible project costs for micro or small organisations
- up to 35% for medium sized organisations
The investment led by the investor partner must always be at least twice as much as the grant funding.
The aim of this competition is to provide you with support for research and development and access to the capital investment you need to develop and commercialise your innovations.
Your proposal must have a clear route to market, a clear link to innovation and evidence that you can create a team to deliver your proposal.
We are looking to support projects that focus on the future economy areas included in the Innovate UK plan for action. The broad theme areas are:
- net zero
- health and wellbeing
- next generation digital technologies and technology families
- equality, diversity and inclusion
Innovation and ideas can come from anyone and anywhere. We want to see investments unlocked for the diverse and extraordinary talent in the UK. We are encouraging diverse applicants and inclusive project applications, pushing beyond the status quo.
We encourage innovation involving communities that are typically under-represented, including:
- from regions that have historically accessed lower levels of investment (outside London, Oxford and Cambridge)
- ethnic minority groups
- women and other marginalised genders
- disabled people
- people with non-traditional education backgrounds
To support this, we also have a targeted theme on equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI).
The investor partnership programme will be focused on specific themes for the future economy areas that include:
- capital intensive technologies
- power – particularly offshore wind, civil nuclear, hydrogen, carbon capture and storage, and whole systems integration
- heating and retrofit
- resource efficiency for materials and manufacturing
- critical circular materials
- battery technologies for transport and energy storage (Faraday Battery Challenge)
Health and Wellbeing
- innovative solutions to health and healthcare challenges (Biomedical Catalyst)
- advancing life-changing Cancer Therapeutics, focussed on immunotherapies and paediatric oncology
- the application of extended reality for digital mental health, including immersive content that could be delivered as a digital mental health therapeutic in formal healthcare settings (Mindset)
- controlled environment agriculture and alternative proteins
Next generation digital technologies
- projects within the creative industries which are underpinned by innovative digital technology as well as sustainable innovations, such as circular fashion (Creative Catalyst)
- adoption of artificial intelligence and machine learning technologies in targeted industries (Bridge AI)
Knows No Limits (equality, diversity and inclusion)
- innovations from diverse founders or senior decision-makers that are from under-represented groups and are role models
- innovations outside of the future economy theme areas, including those that support under-served communities and groups
If your project is not focused on one of the specific themes above then it may be supported if it is in the future economy areas of net zero, health and wellbeing and digital and technologies as set out in the Innovate UK plan for action.
Join us on 4th April, 2-4pm, online, to learn more about how UK registered businesses can apply for grant funding alongside private investment from selected investor partners.