Innovate UK Smart grants: April 2024

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25m for R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy.

Opportunity Details


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Projects of 6-18 months: total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000. Projects of 19-24 months: total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £1 million. Up to 70% of project costs can be funded, depending on business size and project type.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and world-leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation.

The Innovate UK Smart grant has focused scope and eligibility criteria to support micro, small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their partners in developing genuinely new innovations with significant potential for rapid economic return to the UK. The application process reflects the importance of obtaining economic benefits from public funding, and the potential for successful commercialisation, growth, and exports.

Proposals must be business focused, and show deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy.

  • To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

    • be a UK registered SME if you wish to work alone (working alone reduces the maximum duration and cost for projects)
    • be a UK registered business of any size (including SMEs), or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if your proposal is collaborative. Collaborative proposals must include at least one grant claiming SME.

    If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with at least two businesses (one SME and one business of any size) and there must be a credible route to market for the output of the project. Since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the process of those using their services this is expected to be through the other project partners, rather than the RTO itself.

    To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

    • business of any size
    • academic institution
    • charity
    • not for profit
    • public sector organisation
    • research and technology organisation (RTO)

    A business or research and technology organisation (RTO) can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications. Owners, directors and persons of significant interest may not lead multiple submissions through different entities.

    All project partners can collaborate on any number of applications.

  • Your project must:

    • start by 1 January 2025
    • end by 31 December 2026
    • include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
    • follow specific rules depending on its duration
    • carry out all of its project work in the UK
    • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

    The end by date is the latest date by which all funding for this round of the competition must end. Your contracted end date will not be extended.

    Projects with duration is 6 to 18 months must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000, and can be single or collaborative.

    Projects with duration 19 to 24 months must have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £1 million, and must be collaborative.

  • The Innovate UK Smart grant supports micro, small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) and their partners develop the best game-changing and world-leading innovative R&D projects. It offers funding where other opportunities are not available or appropriate, and where timing is key to ensure swift and successful commercialisation post-project completion.

    To be in scope your proposal must demonstrate:

    • a ground-breaking and innovative idea for brand new products, processes or services
    • an idea that is significantly different from already available products, processes or services globally
    • an idea that is set for rapid commercialisation following project completion
    • clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity and competitiveness within the global economy
    • a clear, evidence-based business plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
    • why Smart funding is the right potential funding for your project, and the journey you have already been on to reach the point of application
    • a team with the necessary skills and expertise to deliver the project successfully and on time, and to achieve rapid commercialisation
    • awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
    • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, including the funding of post-project activities
  • Your project must focus on:

    • taking customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions
    • identifying who is ready to buy your innovation
    • being developed, planned and resourced beyond the end of the Innovate UK funded project, taking into account the focus of any project partners and their existing commitments
    • fitting in with and complementing your ongoing business planning and development, product offerings and organisational structure to maximise chances of success
  • An online briefing will be held on Thursday 2 May 2024 at 11am: click here for the joining link. A recording will be made available following the briefing (at the link above).

    You may also find the briefing for the previous round of Smart Grants helpful.

    If you would like help to find a project partner, please contact the appropriate sector team from Innovate UK Business Connect.


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