Innovate UK SMART grants May 2021

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25m for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovation that can significantly impact the UK economy, with up to £500k for short projects or up to £2m for longer projects. This funding is from Innovate UK.

Opportunity Details


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£25k to £500k for projects <18 months, £25k to £2m for projects 19-36 months. This can cover up to 70% of costs depending on business size and market readiness.


Innovate UK

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Smart is Innovate UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme. After this round, another round will open from 26th August with a closing date of 6th October 2021, so don’t rush your application unnecessarily.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:

  • the arts, design and media
  • creative industries
  • science or engineering

Whilst we welcome projects that overlap with the grand challenge areas this is not a requirement, as we are also keen to support projects in other areas.

To monitor the impact of our work to promote equality, diversity and inclusion (EDI), all applicants are required to complete the EDI survey. Applicants are also prompted to consider EDI as part of the application process.

EDI considerations are highly encouraged where appropriate in the proposal. Applications will continue to be assessed on their innovation merit, where innovation is defined as the potential for commercially successful exploitation of ideas.

Your project must:

If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months, it must have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000, and can be single or collaborative.

If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must be collaborative, and have total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million.

If you want to submit a collaborative project from 19 months to 36 months duration with total eligible project costs of up to £3 million as a permitted exception, you must email with full justification at least 10 working days before the competition closes. Innovate UK will decide whether to approve your request.

To lead a project or work alone your organisation must:

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be a UK registered business, academic institution, charity, not-for-profit, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO), and must work and intend to exploit the results in/from the UK as above.

Businesses or RTOs can only lead on one application. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will not be forwarded for assessment. All partners can collaborate on any number of applications.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to 70% depending on business size. For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to 45% depending on business size.

An online briefing event will be held on 11th June, and a recording will be available afterwards – details will appear here once available. You can also watch the briefing event from the previous round of SMART grants by clicking here.

KTN can help with finding a partner or with finalising your application. If you are contacting us, please include details about your project so we can connect you to our appropriate sector expert.


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