Innovation Loans Future Economy Competition: Round 9

UK registered businesses can apply for loans of £100k-£2m for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to 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). Loans are for highly innovative late stage research and development (R&D) projects with the best potential for the future. There should 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

The funding available will be allocated across a series of competitions with the next round opening on the day the previous round closes:

  • round 10 opens 14 July 2023 (this competition)
  • round 11 opens 14 September 2023
  • round 12 opens 9 November 2023 and will close on 10th January 2024
  • 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

    Your business can only submit one application per round of this competition. If you submit more than one application, only the first application will be considered for assessment. Only single businesses can receive loans, so collaboration with other organisations cannot be funded in this competition.

  • 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

    Projects can last up to 5 years, including both the R&D and commercialisation phases. Projects are expected to start by 31 December 2023.

  • Your project can include:

    • prototyping
    • demonstrating
    • piloting
    • testing
    • validation

    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 8 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.

  • We will run an online applicant briefing webinar on Wednesday 17 May 2023. This webinar will provide essential information on innovation loans, including the scope of the programme, the application process (both the project and financial aspects), the assessment process and the approach to our credit decision making process. This webinar will also be recorded.

    Applicants in this round will also have the opportunity to join an online financial submission ‘deep dive’ workshop, covering some of the most important financial aspects of suitability for a loan including:

    • presenting credible forecasts for future revenues and costs
    • demonstrating effective management of liquidity and working capital
    • showing adequate capitalisation

    Wednesday 17 May 2023: Online briefing event: register to attend

    Wednesday 24 May 2023: Deep dive financial workshop 1: register to attend

    Monday 5 June 2023: Deep dive financial workshop 2: register to attend

    Wednesday 14 June 2023: Deep dive financial workshop 3: register to attend

    If you receive an award, you will be contacted about working with an innovation and growth specialist at Innovate UK EDGE.


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