Inclusive Innovation

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

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 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 and delivering benefits to all parts of society.

And this is why we are investing up to £2.5 million per year for the next three years to celebrate inclusion in innovation. We want to support businesses who are role models in developing innovations that centre on equality, diversity and inclusion in their design and development.

The Inclusive Innovation Awards 2022/23 are now closed. 50 awards will be offered to micro, small or medium-sized enterprises across the UK to support diversity in business. The winners will receive a £50,000 grant each for scale-up of existing, or development of new, work on inclusive innovations.  Join us and build a more inclusive innovation ecosystem in the UK.

What is an inclusive innovation?

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

The innovations considered for these awards might be designed to support a specific demographic, OR it might be something that has been developed to be specifically accessible to all (i.e. designed for a wide range of demographics). The inclusive innovation could involve scaling existing practices of a company to venture into a new market OR developing a new product.

There is not an exhaustive list of these, but some examples include:

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

An 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
  • educational background.

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

Inclusive Innovation Awards 2022/23

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.

The application to the Awards are now closed. The Inclusive Innovation Awards winners will be showcased as businesses leading the way in developing inclusive innovations.

50 awards will be offered to micro, small or medium-sized enterprises across the UK to support diversity in business. The winners will receive a £50,000 grant each for scale-up of existing, or development of new, work on inclusive innovations. A campaign will provide the cohort of businesses with press opportunities to highlight their work and influence positive change in other businesses. 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.

Click on the useful links below to learn more about the application process, eligibility, timeline, and more.

What are we looking for?

The aim of this competition is to fund and support a diverse portfolio of businesses who have a track-record in developing inclusive innovations.

We are looking for companies that:

  • have delivered demonstrable societal impact from a previous inclusive innovation
  • demonstrate business growth and successful economic impact from a previous inclusive innovation
  • Can commit to acting as a role model to other business, sharing good practice with the innovation sector
  • Have a great idea to further develop a previous innovation, or start something new

£50,000 will be awarded to companies with this track record. They will also have to demonstrate how the award will be used. We are looking for project proposals that:

  • Further expand the company’s inclusive innovation portfolio
  • Meet a clear societal need
  • centre on equality, diversity and inclusion in the design and development of products, processes or services
  • involve a diverse  team, as appropriate to the project
  • Can start on April 1 2023, and finish on March 31 2024

Who can get involved?

Applications can come from any area of innovation,  and be applied to any part of the economy. To be eligible for the awards, your organisation must:

  • be a business that has been operating for one year
  • be a UK registered micro, small or medium-sized enterprise
  • be resident in the UK
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
  • be legally and contractually able to use the funding, awarded as Minimal Finance Assistance

Support for applying

Diversity and Inclusion is a priority across the Innovate UK family, and we welcome and encourage applications from people of all backgrounds. We are committed to making our application process accessible to everyone. This includes providing support for people who have a disability or long-term condition and face barriers applying to us. If you would like any support when applying, please contact Innovate UK’s Customer Support Service on 0300 321 4357 or

Join the community

We know there is more to do to encourage more diverse role models and to continue our outreach to support underrepresented communities. Subscribe to the Innovate UK KTN newsletter now for programme and competition updates.

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