Inclusive Innovation

Diversity in all its many forms matters, and great ideas can come from anyone.

Innovate UK is encouraging businesses to consider diversity and inclusion in their approach to innovation.

This includes ensuring that new products, processes, technologies and services are designed at the outset with diversity, and diverse users, in mind. We want to see more innovations developed with improvements in equality, diversity, and inclusion as a goal, resulting in a higher chance of commercial success whilst delivering benefits to all parts of society.

That is why we introduced our Inclusive Innovation Award. We want to support businesses who are role models in developing innovations that centre on equality, diversity and inclusion in their design and development.

Join us and build a more inclusive innovation ecosystem in the UK.

Innovation Meets Inclusion

Hear from Innovate UK about our equality, diversion and inclusion (ED&I) programmes, and how they help businesses and innovation.

What is an inclusive innovation?

We define an ‘inclusive innovation’ as one that centres equality, diversity and inclusion in the design and development of a product, process, or service. More importantly, the innovation must address a challenge.

Our programme supports businesses developing either universal innovations (solutions that are purposefully designed for the widest group of demographics) or inclusive innovations (solutions aimed at demographics that are often excluded). The awarded projects could involve developing new products or scaling existing practices to venture into a new markets.

For example, some of the innovations we are supporting include:

  • technologies that give people with disabilities a more independent life
  • product development based on user research from a broad range of demographics
  • services that promote representation and help build a more inclusive society

The inclusive innovation must focus on one or more of the following:

  • protected characteristics including:
    • age,
    • sex and gender,
    • gender reassignment,
    • ethnicity,
    • disability,
    • sexuality,
    • religion,
    • marriage and civil partnership,
    • pregnancy and maternity
  • socioeconomic status
  • levelling-up
  • caring responsibilities or
  • educational background.

The remit is broad to ensure that the diversity of inclusive innovations being developed across the UK are celebrated.

Inclusive Innovation Award

Diversity in businesses contributes to enhanced performance and commercial success. Greater representation from different backgrounds, experiences, perspectives, economic circumstances, disabled people, and ethnic minorities in business innovation is a huge opportunity for positive economic and societal impact in the UK.

Our Inclusive Innovation Award celebrates micro, small or medium-sized enterprises from across the UK who have a track record in developing inclusive innovations.

In 2023, 50 winners were selected from over 400 applicants. Each winner receives a £50,000 grant to scale up an existing innovation or develop new inclusive products, processes, technologies or services.

These companies have:

  • delivered demonstrable societal impact from a previous inclusive innovation
  • demonstrated business growth and successful economic impact from a previous inclusive innovation
  • committed to work as a role model to other businesses, sharing good practice with the innovation sector
  • a great idea to further develop a previous innovation, or start something new

The winners will be showcased as businesses leading the way in developing inclusive innovations. As part of our commitment to building a community of inclusive innovators, award holders will be expected to spend at least 5 days over the duration of the award being a role model to other businesses, as well as working across the Innovate UK family to support us in developing support for businesses.

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