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Innovate UK Smart Grants: January 2023

Opens:
19/1/2023
Closes:
26/4/2023
Sectors:
All
General & Misc
Project Size:
Share of up to £25Million

Smart is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme. It has focused eligibility criteria and scope to support SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid economic return to the UK.

Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and world-leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation. Ideas need to be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within their sector.

Your proposal must be business focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion.

Questions for this round of Smart reflect the importance of obtaining economic benefits from public funding, and the potential for successful commercialisation, growth and exports.

Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively, net zero, the arts, design and media.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a highly competitive process where your chance of success in securing funding will depend on the number and quality of applications submitted.

In applying to this competition, you are entering into a competitive process. This competition closes at 11am UK time on the deadline stated.

Eligibility

If your application does not meet the eligibility criteria for this competition it will not be sent for assessment.

Your project

Your project must:

  • start by 1 October 2023
  • end by 30 September 2026
  • include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
  • follow specific rules dependent on its duration
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

The end by date is the date by which all funding for this round of the competition must end. Your contracted project end date will not be extended.

If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months, it must:

  • have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £500,000
  • be single or collaborative

If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:

  • have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
  • be collaborative

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian and Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian and Belarusian source.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered SME if you want to work alone
  • be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if collaborative
  • include at least one grant claiming SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, academic organisations, public sector organisations or charities
  • claim grant funding

More information on the different types of organisation can be found in our Funding rules.

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with 2 businesses (one SME and one business of any size) and there must be a credible route to market for the output of the project. Since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the progress of those using their services, this is expected to be through the partners, rather than through the RTO itself.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.


Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

  • business of any size
  • academic institution
  • charity
  • not for profit
  • public sector organisation
  • research and technology organisation (RTO)

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service by the lead to collaborate on a project. Once accepted, partners will be asked to login or to create an account and enter their own eligible project costs into the Innovation Funding Service.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Subcontractors

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors must be based in the UK for the duration of the project and their portion of the project work must be carried out in the UK. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Please note that for the purposes of this competition the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are crown dependencies and not classed as part of the UK. Subcontractors located there would be ineligible.


Number of applications

A business, or research and technology organisation (RTO), can only lead on one application. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will not be forwarded for assessment.

All partners can collaborate on any number of applications.


The Innovate UK Smart grant funds a cross-sector portfolio to support SMEs and their partners to develop the best game changing and word-leading projects. It offers funding where other opportunities are not available or appropriate, and where timing is key to ensure swift and successful commercialisation post-project completion.

To be in scope your proposal must demonstrate:

  • a game-changing, innovative, and disruptive idea that will lead to new products, processes or services
  • an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
  • clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity and competitiveness within the global economy
  • a clear, evidence-based business plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
  • why Smart funding is the right potential funding for your project, and the journey you have already been on to reach the point of application
  • a team with the necessary skills and expertise to deliver the project successfully and on time, and to achieve rapid commercialisation
  • awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, including the funding of post-project activities

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on:

  • taking customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions
  • identifying who is ready to buy your innovation
  • being developed, planned and resourced beyond the end of the Innovate UK funded project, taking into account the focus of any project partners and their existing commitments
  • fitting with and complementing your ongoing business planning and development, product offerings and organisational structure to maximise chances of success

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