Innovate UK Smart Grants September 2023

Apply for a share of up to £25m for game-changing and commercially viable 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 £100k-£500k. Projects of 19-36 months: total eligible project costs £100k-£2m. Up to 70% of costs can be covered depending on project type and business size.


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. Ideas need to be genuinely new.

The Innovate UK Smart grant has focused scope and eligibility criteria to support SMEs and their partners develop disruptive 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, with 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 want to work alone
    • be a UK registered business of any size, or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if your proposal is collaborative
    • include at least one grant claiming SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, academic organisations, public sector organisations or charities

    If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with at least 2 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 a further two applications. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will be ineligible and will not be forwarded for assessment.

    Other project partners (non-leading) can collaborate on any number of applications.

  • Your project must:

    • start by 1 July 2024
    • end by 30 June 2027
    • include at least one micro, small or medium 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

    If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months, it must:

    • have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000
    • be single or collaborative

    If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:

    • have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
    • be collaborative
  • The Innovate UK Smart grant supports 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 at 12 noon on Thursday 5th October: click here for the joining link. A recording should be available after the briefing.

    If you would like help to find a collaboration partner, contact Innovate UK KTN’s appropriate sector team(s).


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