One of the questions that we’re frequently asked is how quickly can our project start? If we receive an email confirming that our application has been successful one week, can we launch the project the next? Unfortunately, the answer is no, all successful applicants must go through the Innovate UK grant acceptance process. This allows the finance and compliance team to undertake the relevant checks prior to issuing a formal grant offer letter.
So, what’s involved? If your application is successful it’s status on the Innovate Funding Service (the portal used to submit the application for review) will change from “submitted” to “project in setup”. As part of the set up process you’ll need to provide Innovate UK with some additional information, for example:
- Project details – nothing too taxing, you simply need to confirm the proposed start date and your project location.
- Project team – provide contact details for key team members and your designated point of contact for finance queries.
- Bank details – it’s paramount that you provide those all-important bank details for your quarterly grant payments!
- Spend profile – you will need to provide a monthly spend profile (labour, overheads, materials etc) to reflect your project delivery costs. You will be monitored on how well you adhere to the spend profile, so it’s important to ensure that the profile mirrors the project plan and Gantt chart.
- Documents – you will typically need to provide an exploitation plan (lift and expand upon key information provided in your application) and second level plan (comprehensive Gantt chart, list of deliverables and milestones). If you’re part of a consortium, you will need to provide a signed collaboration agreement. This can slow the grant acceptance process down as the fine detail will need to be agreed upon and signed off by all project partners. If you have a large corporate as part of your consortium, you need to factor in sign off by their legal team. Get a head start and review the Lambert model agreements as an initial starting point.
- Finance checks – it’s relatively commonplace for Innovate UK to undertake a financial status review. As part of this you may be requested submit information to provide assurance that your organisation will continue to be financially stable over the life of the project and assurance of how you intend to cover your element of the project costs. Typically, you will have the option to send a copy of your most recent year-end financial statements, management accounts, screenshot of a current/recent business bank statement, a letter of comfort/guarantee from any investors/shareholders/directors confirming continued financial support etc. You don’t need to provide a copy of each and every document, just the one(s) which are most appropriate to your particular situation.
- Project specific queries - the finance team may ask you to provide additional information on your project costs / how they were calculated. This isn’t anything to be alarmed about. Take a step back and remember how difficult it was to explain your costs within the constraints of a 400 word response. The team just needs to dot the I’s and cross the proverbial T’s.
- Grant offer letter – finally, you’ll need to sign and return the unconditional grant offer letter.
An important point to remember, if you’re part of a collaborative project each partner will need to confirm their delivery location, team members, bank details, spend profile, answer any queries, sign the collaboration agreement, and grant offer letter. As the project lead it’s always useful to keep a close eye on the status of project partners to ensure that a simple oversight or delayed response doesn’t further delay the official project start date. Then the fun begins, and the project can officially commence.
We can support you through the grant acceptance process. If you need any more information, you can contact us here.