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Grant Competition: Design Foundations

Claim up to £80,000 for your people and planet-centred project through Innovate UK’s Design Foundations competition.  

If your organisation is working on an R&D project using ‘people and planet-centred design’, you could apply for a share of up to £2 million in grant funding through Innovate UK’s Design Foundations competition.

The competition is designed to help organisations that want to test and improve the customer experience, and the social and environmental benefits of their early-stage projects. 

The aim of this competition is to help UK businesses develop ideas that will benefit people and the planet, in line with the UN’s Sustainable Development Goals

Unlike most grants, Design Foundations allows you to claim funding for up to 100% of your costs.

Key facts:

  • The competition opened on 6 July 2022 and closes 31 August 2022
  • Your project must start by 1 March 2023 and end by 31 August 2023
  • Your project must last between 3 months and 6 months
  • Your total project costs must be between £40,000 and £80,000

If you’re thinking of applying to the Design Foundations competition, our Innovation Grants team is on hand to give your proposal the best chance of success. 

Take a moment to read through the information below, then contact GrantTree for a quick, hassle-free assessment of your eligibility.

Am I eligible for the Design Foundations grant?

Here are the key eligibility criteria for the Design Foundations competition. You can find a complete breakdown of the eligibility criteria on the competition page.

Your project

To qualify for the Design Foundations grant, your project must:

  • Have total costs between £40,000 and £80,000
  • Start by 1 March 2023 and end by 31 August 2023
  • Last between 3 and 6 months

You must carry out all of your project work in the UK and intend to exploit the results of your project work in the UK.

Funding is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA), which allows public bodies to award businesses up to £315,000 in a 3-year rolling financial period. As part of your application, Innovate UK will need to understand what other kinds of financial support you have received to make sure you don’t exceed this limit. 

Our grant writing specialists can help you justify your project if it falls beyond the scope for cost or duration. Contact us today to find out more.

Leading a project

To lead a project, your organisation must be a UK-registered:

  • Business of any size
  • Charity
  • Not-for-profit
  • Public sector organisation

Partnering with a lead

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be any of the following:

  • A business of any size
  • An academic institution
  • A charity
  • A not for profit
  • A non-governmental organisation
  • A research and technology organisation (RTO)


You are allowed to use subcontractors in your project. However, subcontractor costs cannot exceed 20% of your total project cost. 

You can spend a larger amount of your project cost with another organisation, however you must include them as a partner. The partner must claim funding as part of the application. 

The Design Foundations competition allows you to include subcontractors from anywhere in the world, so long as all the costs are justified and appropriate.

For help making this justification, contact our grant specialists.

How do I apply?

You have until 11 am on 31st August 2022 to submit your application via the competition website. The application is split into three sections: project details, application questions and finances. 

Applicants will be notified about whether their claim has been successful on 30th September 2022.

How can GrantTree help?

To secure funding from the Design Foundations competition, your application must demonstrate:

  • That your project is using a people and planet-centred design approach 
  • That your project is generating new ideas or testing and improving existing ideas surrounding customer experience, social and environmental benefits for your early-stage ideas
  • That you have learned about appropriate design approaches for relevant search terms, including planet and life-centred design

GrantTree can help you create a successful application that meets these criteria and demonstrates the true value of your project. Since the competition allows you to resubmit an application, we can work with previous applicants to update and strengthen your proposal.

Grant funding is fiercely competitive, but our team has decades of experience in creating successful applications. Contact us today to maximise your chances of success.