Innovation Loans Future Economy
UK registered SME businesses can apply for loan funding for innovative late-stage research and development projects with strong commercial potential that will significantly boost the UK economy.
Innovate UK is offering up to £25 million in loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises.
Loans are for businesses with highly innovative late-stage research and development projects with a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.
Projects must lead to 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.
We are particularly interested in projects that focus on the future economy areas included in Innovate UK plan for action.
Who are loans for?
Businesses that are:
- Carrying out late-stage R&D
- Have a clear route to commercial success
- Innovative and growth orientated
- ‘Scaling’ rather than ‘starting’
- Credit constrained
- Unable to fund the project from their own resources or other forms of private-sector funding.
We are looking for businesses that can demonstrate that their innovation activities have the best potential for future growth.
*Activities as of review 31 December 2021
How to apply
Watch our videos, or read articles from the team, to learn how to best prepare your Innovation Loans application and related materials.
Frequently Asked Questions
The interest rate is 7.4% per annum. Interest is payable in the availability and extension periods, at 3.7% pa on amounts drawn, with interest at 3.7% pa deferred to the repayment period. Interest is payable in the repayment period at 7.4% pa , together with repayment of amounts drawn and the deferred interest.
We believe that innovation loans will stimulate and support innovation while also providing value-for-money for the taxpayer.
The funding is available for late stage R&D (experimental development) projects.
An innovation loan can cover up to 100% of the eligible project costs of your project. The guidance for applicants describes ‘eligible costs’ in detail: Guidance for Applicants and Project Finance Guidance found below in the resource section.
We will take security over the assets of the company in the form of a mortgage debenture. The innovation loan does not depend on the value of the assets as security.
Where there is a charge in favour of a senior secured commercial lender (now or in the future), we will expect to be subordinated and cede priority through a deed of priority. Since they can participate in the ‘upside’ of the growth of the business, we do not consider equity holders to be senior secured commercial lenders, so we would expect to have priority over any charge that they may have (for example if there is a secured convertible loan) and would require them to cede priority to us by way of a deed of priority.
- IP / intangible assets do not need to be valued. The debenture is a fixed and floating charge over all assets of the company, without ascribing any particular value.
- We will not require any personal guarantees from founders / directors / shareholders etc.
- We will not take security over personal property.
You will be required to adhere to some covenants:
- Liquidity Ratio of 1.1x throughout the loan. This means the business’ current assets exceed its current liabilities by 10% and shows the business is able to meet the interest payments in in the availability and extension periods and thereafter meet loan repayments.
- Debt Service Coverage Ratio of 1.2x throughout the repayment period. This shows your earnings before interest, tax, depreciation and amortisation (EBITDA), effectively your free cash flow, will be 1.2X your interest and repayments. The financial Covenants are tested quarterly.
- Project monitoring – This will be through a Project Monitoring Officer. They will make sure that your project is on track and performing well to achieve success at the end of the project.
- Provision of Quarterly management accounts
- Provision of Annual accounts (within 6 months of year-end)
- Failing to meet the covenants would constitute a breach of the terms of the loan agreement. If not rectified within the period permitted in the loan agreement, this is likely to constitute a default, which might lead to a demand for repayment.
You must provide historic and forecast financial information so that we can form a judgement about your suitability to take on a loan of the amount and for the period you have requested. We recognise that forecasts will involve judgements and we are interested in the assumptions that you use in your forecasts, as set out in the narrative answers to the survey questions. We want you to be sure that you can demonstrate to your own business (including for example your Board and your shareholders), as well as to us, that a loan is suitable for you.
Innovate UK innovation loans future economy: round 12
Opens: 09/11/2023 Closes: 10/01/2024
UK registered businesses can apply for loans for innovative projects with strong commercial potential to significantly improve the UK economy.
Innovate UK Investor Partnerships: SME round 5
Opens: 26/10/2023 Closes: 08/01/2024
UK registered businesses can apply for grant funding alongside private investment from selected investor partners.
Unlock Funding for Digital Supply Chain Innovation
Opens: 20/11/2023 Closes: 07/12/2023
The Made Smarter Innovation Digital Supply Chain Hub seeks companies interested in developing and deploying digital technology in their testbeds.
Related Events and Recordings
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