Support for Innovators
Innovate UK Business Connect has a wide network, deep sector expertise, and can connect you to people and organisations to help accelerate your ideas and solve technology problems. But we recognise that it is difficult to know where to start and what to ask us at Innovate UK Business Connect.
We have compiled the following list of online resources to help you identify what help and support you can tap into. These are predominantly available to UK businesses or those looking to set up in the UK. You can pick out which are relevant for you and follow the links to access these services. The list is not intended to be exhaustive, but a starting point to some of your initial questions on where to go, who and what to ask. As these resources are delivered nationally, regionally and by sector, do sign up to our newsletters and follow us on social media. When you contact us, let us know what sector you are in and what support you are looking for, and/or engage with our sector and programme leads directly to see how else we can help.
Frequently Asked Questions
We work with all innovative businesses: sole entrepreneurs, pre-seed, early stage, growth stage or those scaling up their business. You can be pre-revenue or have significant turnover.
We work across all technology sectors, but in every case we work with ambitious companies that are looking to drive and/or acquire innovation to further grow and scale their business.
You do not need to have received Innovate UK or any other public sector funding.Innovation Exchange
Match innovative solutions with industry challengesInnovate UK
Supporting businesses to develop and realise the potential of new ideas
Yes, we work across the whole of the UK, by sector and/or programme; our team of sector experts are based across the UK.Knowledge Transfer Partnerships
Research funding to link business and universities with a dedicated research fellowInnovate UK Business Growth
Regional 1:1 business supportThe LEP Network
A Local Enterprise Partnership is a partnership between local authorities and businesses that seeks to foster enterprise and innovation in their local areaGrowth Hubs
Bringing together the best public and private sector partners to promote and deliver business support based on the regional needsBritish Business Bank
The British Business Bank has a range of regional funds and investor partnershipsInvest Northern Ireland
Support for Northern Irish BusinessesScottish Enterprise
Support for Scottish BusinessesBusiness for Wales
Support for Welsh Businesses
Innovate UK Business Connect can help you accelerate your innovation. We do this by connecting ideas, people and communities to respond to challenges and drive positive change. We can make introductions to new business partners, help you find collaborators for grants and project delivery, and introduce you to new market opportunities and customers.
We have expertise across a range of skill sets and disciplines. Our experts will work with you collaboratively in a number of ways: first, we will want to understand what your innovation and business needs are, and then we can connect you to our wider networks of companies, academics, funders and sector stakeholders. Our advisors are all experts with deep knowledge and experience in their sectors.
Our specialists come from broad commercial and research backgrounds and many have cross-cutting sector expertise, so can support companies looking to work with or innovate in multiple sectors. You can be sure of expert support from a dedicated point of contact, as well as access to our extensive pool of domain experts. Many companies are looking for cross cutting and enabling support. Our experts will work collaboratively across the organisation and regions to support you.
Our communities are built around established and emerging ideas, technologies and sectors. We can help you promote your innovation across these diverse communities locally, nationally and globally. Our staff are experienced collaborators with diverse connections, who understand the challenges ahead and will use our network to support you and your business.
We can help you with your funding and finance journey. We can signpost you to grants and finding competitions. We connect innovative businesses to help build collaborations and consortia for project finance and grant application. Through our investor network we can also advise you on how to engage with business angels and venture funds; we make introductions through our events and networks.Our Experts
Expert support for businessesKnowledge Transfer Partnership
Research funding to link business and universities with a dedicated research fellow
There are many resources available to help you. Innovate UK’s grants have a broad scope: the Smart Grant, for example, is open to any business seeking to deliver an ambitious or disruptive research and development (R&D) innovation. On a more niche application, there may be specific grants for key technology components. It is important to check the scope and remember that the funding is generally for R&D and not commercialisation studies. Very few grants are 100% funded, so you must have enough money to provide the match funding.
Innovate UK Business Connect’s Innovation Canvas can be used to scope out your innovation. This online tool (printable version also available) can help you identify the most important challenges in developing innovative products, services or processes. We recommend using it to prioritise next actions, and to seek fresh perspectives, ideas or advice.
Innovate UK Business Growth can offer support with innovation development, including the Strategyzer Business Model Canvas toolkit.
Our Building Success Webinar Series, produced as part of our Women in Innovation programme, is applicable to anyone working in innovation no matter what your gender. The series explores topics ranging from marketing through to intellectual property, funding and finance, and HR and recruitment.
If you are under 25, check out our Young Innovators programme for customised advice and resources for young innovators.
Innovate UK Business Connect promotes the dates and times of the briefing and partnering events relevant to a number of Innovate UK Grant and Research Funding opportunities. You can find the appropriate partnering/briefing event by searching our events pages. Our sector specific experts are present at these events and can offer application support for collaborators, partners and suppliers.
For more help with grant applications, please consult Innovate UK Business Connect’s ‘Good application Guide‘.
Innovate UK Business Growth can also provide you with support with your grant application.Events
Search for relevant briefing/partnering eventsGood Application Guide
Download Innovate UK Business Connect's 'Good Application Guide'Innovate UK Business Growth
Support for grant applicationKonfer
Search for resources, technology and innovation capabilities within the UK innovation ecosystem
For EU grants, help may be available from Innovate UK Business Connect and Innovate UK Business Growth.
It is also worth looking at other government department websites who may publish information on collaboration opportunities, research grants, SBRIs and procure R&D.
If you are the lead applicant looking for collaborators or would like to be a partner or supplier on a grant application, Innovate UK Business Connect has an extensive network of contacts and can make introductions. There are also other platforms publishing collaboration opportunities in industry and the university sector, such as Konfer and Enterprise Europe Network (EEN).
There will be an Innovate UK Business Connect sector lead for thematic funding calls who will be able to help you. For SMART grants and general sector support, you can find a sector expert in our people section.
We run various events, showcases and networking activities throughout the year. These events are good opportunities to hear from and meet potential collaborators and suppliers. There are many recordings of presentations from past events, so it is worth searching our website to find archival recordings and articles.
When you contact Innovate UK Business Connect please provide us with as much information as possible to help us answer your enquiry.Experts
Find an Innovate UK Business Connect Expert to help make connections in your sectorEvents
Search for events, showcases and networking activitiesContact us
Innovate UK Business Connect has an extensive network of contacts and can make introductionsKonfer
Search for resources, technology and potential collaborators within the UK innovation ecosystemEnterprise Europe Network (EEN).
Search for collaboration opportunities in industry and university sector
There are many online resources for entrepreneurs and for start up companies. The government has collated a wide range of resources, from writing a business plan to tax advice.
When you start a business, finance can be the key to getting your idea off the ground. The British Business Bank has developed a number of resources online to help you through the funding and finance journey.
There are many other organisations that can provide support and resources: please click the useful links tab for more.Business General Guidelines and support (UK Government)
General business supportBusiness Financial Support (UK Government)
Finance adviceSetting up a Business (UK Government)
Advice on setting up a businessWrite a Business Plan (UK Government)
Start up adviceContracts Finder (UK Government)
Search for information about contracts with the UK government and its agenciesScientific R&D Support (Department for Business, Energy & Industrial Strategy)
Scientific research and development: detailed informationDepartment for Business and Trade (DBT)
Support and advice for international tradeLocal Support finder (DiT)
Find and contact your local international trade advisorBritish Library - Business & IP Centre
Access to training, IP and market research resourcesUK Patent and Trade Mark Office
Training and online resources to help you with all your IP needs, including, patents, trade marks and designsBritish Business Bank Finance Hub
See what forms of finance are available for your business
There are many ways in which businesses looking for investment can find investors with the capital, contacts and knowledge to help them succeed. There is no ‘one size fits all’ solution, and finding the most appropriate investor depends on your stage, sector and region.
It is important that as a new company you have a funding and finance roadmap. This should identify what finance you need at each stage and milestone. An investor will be looking at this too as they want to know how much money you will need before you are in profit. It may be a blend of grant, equity, debt and paid for research and development/project finance. At a later stage when you are well capitalised and or have income streams you may want to look at asset finance, and when you are receiving purchase orders you can use factoring to finance your business.
The ‘Useful links’ will help you navigate the various advice and options that are available for companies seeking equity investment.
Crowdfunding is a popular option for many companies but you have to do a lot of work up front to be ready, including securing a percentage of the total investment. The crowdfunding platforms provide a lot of guidance information, and if you are selected they can support you in the processes.
Innovate UK runs thematic Investment Partnerships throughout the year. This links grant funding with selected investors. Each competition is designed differently so it is important to look at the Eligibility criteria and the T&Cs. We will publish these competitions and briefing events online.Business Finance Support (UK Government)
Finance adviceUK Business Angel Association
Financing high-potential entrepreneurs across the whole of the UKThe Enterprise Investment Scheme (EISA)
Government scheme that provides a range of tax reliefs for investors who subscribe for qualifying shares in qualifying companiesBritish Private Equity & Venture Capital Association (BVCA)
Industry body and public policy advocate for the private equity and venture capital industry in the UKScaleup Institute
Not-for-profit company focused on making the UK the best place in the world to scale up a businessCrowd Funding Association
The crowdfunding platforms provide a lot of guidance information and if selected can support you in the processesCrunch Base
Find investors active in the UKSeed Legals
Find investors active in the UKTech Nation - UK Start Up Ecosystem
Explore the UK Startup Ecosystem
Investors are approached by many entrepreneurs, so they are in a good position to compare your investment opportunity across other companies. They will look at the team, size of the market opportunity, USP, and how you can defend your technology and or offer. Deals are often turned down because investors can not find real differentiation or have confidence that you have a sustainable and scalable competitive advantage.
It is important not just to focus on your pitch, but the supporting data that will inform your pitch and be reviewed during due diligence. Investors often outline what they expect to see on their websites along with some guidance. These ‘Useful links’ provide you with information on the typical collateral investors are looking for that you need to have in your deal room.
You may want to get an external opinion on your pitch and ‘investment readiness’. We always recommend that you get an independent opinion on your pitch and business proposition, to identify any gaps and areas of improvements. There are also companies out there that have assessment tools and can provide credit ratings, which may be more important at later stages. Don’t forget to ask a business advisor or friendly investor to give you their opinion.
Innovate UK Business Connect has developed ‘Preparing a Good Investment Pitch’ to help you.Innovate UK Business Connect's 'Preparing a Good Investment Pitch'
Pitch preparation guidePitchfest
Innovate UK Business Growth Pitchfest: Get investment readyDue diligence: The Seedrs Standard
Due Diligence From an investor perspectiveF6S
Peer to peer community site for entrepreneurs globally and includes information on accelerators, events and fundingRLC Ventures
Investors advice on start up funding and strategySequoia Capital
Business plan and pitching advice from a VC's perspectiveADV Guide
How to tell your story in numbers