Innovate UK innovation loans future economy: round 12

UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.

Opportunity Details


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Loans can be between £100,000 and £2 million.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK is offering up to £25 million in loans to micro, small and medium sized enterprises (SMEs). Innovate UK innovation loans are for highly innovative late stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. There must be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Your project must lead to innovative new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available, or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

Your project must focus on one or more of the future economy areas included in the Innovate UK plan for action.

You must be able to show that you:

  • need public funding
  • can cover interest payments
  • will be able to repay the loan on time
  • To receive an innovation loan for a new project you must:

    • be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME)
    • carry out your project from or in the UK
    • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
    • give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan

    We are also particularly interested in receiving applications from diverse businesses involving communities that are typically under-represented. This includes regions outside the ‘Golden Triangle’, London, Oxford and Cambridge, or with, for example, female, ethnic minority and diverse ability founders.

    Individuals, large companies, not for profits, charities, academic institutions, and research organisations are not eligible for innovation loans. Only single businesses can receive loans, so collaboration with other organisations cannot be funded in this competition.

    Your business can only submit one application per round of this competition.

  • You can apply for a loan of between £100,000 and £2 million to fund your project’s eligible costs.

    Projects can last up to 5 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases. Projects are expected to start by 1 June 2024. Your exact project start date and first innovation loan drawdown will depend on the timing of the final credit committee decision and completion of loan documentation.

  • Your idea must lead to innovative new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others currently available or propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services. It can also involve a new or innovative business model.

    Your proposal must demonstrate:

    • a clearly expressed and compelling innovative idea
    • a robust and deliverable business plan that addresses and shows evidence of market potential and needs
    • a team with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time, and take the outputs forward
    • awareness of all the main risks the project and business will face, with realistic plans to manage, mitigate and minimise the impact of each of these
    • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money and ability to repay the loan
    • why you are unable to fund the project from your own resources or other forms of public or private sector funding
    • a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion

    Your project can include:

    • prototyping
    • demonstrating
    • piloting
    • testing
    • validation

    These can be in environments that represent real life operating conditions.

  • Your project must focus on one or more of the following themes or sub-themes:

    Net Zero

    • energy
    • impact of industrial processes and use of materials
    • agriculture and food and other sources of emissions
    • capital intensity

    Health and wellbeing

    • tackling ill health
    • enhancing wellbeing
    • diet and food

    Next generation digital technologies

    Technology families:

    • advanced materials and manufacturing
    • artificial intelligence digital and advanced computing
    • bioinformatics and genomics
    • engineering biology
    • electronics, photonics and quantum technologies
    • energy and environment technologies
    • robotics and smart machines
  • URKI, Innovate UK and Innovate UK KTN have produced financial submission guidance and a guide to a Good Project Application: click here to view the available resources, including the round 11 video briefing, blogs and advice.

    An application for an innovation loans competition needs different information from one for a grant application. Even if you have applied for funding from Innovate UK before, you are strongly advised to read the innovation loans guidance before you start.

  • Financial Submission guidance and guide to a Good Project Application: access the resources website

    Innovate UK KTN will hold an applicant briefing for round 12 on Wednesday 22 November, 2.30pm-4.30pm: click here to register for a place. A recording will be available following the event.

    Applicants in round 12 will also have the opportunity to join an online financial submission ‘deep dive’ workshop: see below for details. At the briefing link above you will also be able to register for the deep dive workshops.

  • These workshops will not repeat the information provided in the applicant briefing webinar (which provides an overview of the future economy innovation loans programme and detailed information about the application process) or in the recorded financial submission webinar (which focuses on the mechanics of completion of the business and financial submission, especially the mandatory financial spreadsheet). We expect all participants at the ‘deep dive’ workshops to have already reviewed the content of these webinars (as well as the recorded webinar on completing a good project application). Please click here to find these recordings. These ‘deep dive’ workshops will replace the ‘credit drop-in’ sessions that we have run in earlier rounds of the programme. These ‘deep dive’ workshops will not be recorded, so that participants can discuss their funding strategies freely.

    Prior registration is mandatory for these workshops and applicants will only be permitted to register one participant at one workshop. Since each applicant will only be permitted one participant, we recommend that this should be the Chief Financial Officer or another member of the Board or Senior Leadership team with responsibility for developing the funding strategy for growth through innovation of the business.

    Deep dive workshop 1: Monday 27 November 2.00pm – 3.30pm
    Deep dive workshop 2: Tuesday 5 December 2.30pm – 4.00pm
    Deep dive workshop 3: Monday 11 December 11.00am – 12.30pm

    Click here to register for the round 12 briefing event and/or deep dive workshops.


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