Innovation loans: April 2021 open competition

Businesses can apply for loans from £250k to £1.6m for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.

Opportunity Details


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Loans of between £250,000 and £1.6 million are available.


Innovate UK

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Innovate UK is offering up to £20 million in loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Loans are for highly innovative late stage projects with the best game changing and disruptive ideas or concepts. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Your project must aim to develop new products, processes or services which are significantly ahead of anything similar in the field. You can also propose an innovative use of existing products, processes or services.

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

Your project must focus on commercialisation, growth or scale up. We will give priority to proposals likely to lead to growth and gains in productivity.

You must be able to show that you:

  • can cover interest payments
  • will be able to repay the loan on time
  • need public funding

Loans of between £250,000 and £1.6 million are available to fund your project’s eligible costs.

Projects can last up to 4 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases. Projects are expected to start by September 2021.

To take on an innovation loan for a project you must:

  • be a UK registered SME
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • give evidence that your business is suitable to take on a loan

Individuals, academic institutions, research organisations and large companies are not eligible for innovation loans.

Only single businesses can receive loans, so collaboration with other organisations cannot be funded in this competition.

The overall term of the loan must not exceed 7 years, with interest at 3.7% for the first two years and then rising to 7.4% (with some of it being deferred): full details are here.

Innovate UK expect to take security in the form of a mortgage debenture, but will not require personal guarantees.

They will only fund experimental development projects as defined here.

Your project can include:

  • prototyping
  • demonstrating
  • piloting
  • testing
  • validation

in environments that represent real life operating conditions.

An online briefing event will be held at 10am on 20th May: details will appear here when available.


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