We talk a lot about R&D Tax Credits in this blog, but they are not the only type of funding available for innovative businesses. Every year Innovate UK offers grants to companies working on ‘high potential innovation projects’. That is, projects with the potential to bring about far-reaching changes in their given area.
The organisation’s budget for 2016-17 is £561 million, and this is allocated on a competitive basis. Innovate UK runs two competitions every year in each of four key areas, as well as two open competitions for non-specific innovation.
The four sectors are Emerging and Enabling Tecnologies, Health and Life Sciences, Infrastructure Systems and Manufacturing and Materials. Let’s take a look at them one by one.
Emerging and Enabling Technologies
This area makes up 15% of Innovate UK’s annual budget, about £86 million pounds. Innovate UK’s Delivery Plan defines these technologies as those that ‘have the potential to disrupt a broad swathe of products and services across many sectors.’ Innovate UK aims to help develop these technologies, and also to commercialise them successfully. They note that, while the UK has always been strong in researching new technologies, it has ‘in the past struggled to fully commercialise the opportunities created.’ The aim of this might be to reinforce the UK’s status as a global leader in research and development.
The definition of Emerging and Enabling technologies is fairly open-ended, but the examples given in the Delivery Plan include biofilms, energy harvesting, new imaging technologies, cyber security, robotics and autonomous systems.
Health and Life Sciences
This area makes up 21% of Innovate UK’s annual budget, about £117 million. Generally speaking, this sector covers agriculture, healthcare, and energy. It’s about meeting the challenges of providing for a growing and ageing population using new technologies. Again, this is a fairly broad category, but some of the specific examples in the Delivery Plan are precision medicine, cell and gene therapy, agri-tech and medicine discovery. You can apply for up to £10m in funding for precision medicine, up to £13.5m for cell and gene therapy, up to £20m in agri-tech and up to £7m for medicine discovery.
This is the largest of the four areas, making up 27% of the total budget, about £150 million. According to Innovate UK ‘The Infrastructure Systems sector group covers the major global market opportunities in optimising transport and energy systems and integrating these with other systems such as health and digital in an urban context.’ Put simply, this area is about keeping things running smoothly in modern cities. Energy and transport need to adapt to a growing and ageing population and also need to become greener as natural resources diminish.
Manufacturing and materials.
This area makes up 24% of Innovate UK’s budget, about £137 million. Innovate UK want to raise the UK’s status as a global manufacturer by funding new developments ‘ in areas such as digital manufacturing, additive manufacturing, composites, materials integration and industrial biotechnology.’
This area is heavily market-focused. Innovate UK are not just interested in developing new manufacturing technologies. They describe themselves as ‘focusing on advancing manufacturing readiness so R&D and technology developments can be delivered at scale to the market at pace so UK industry can increase productivity and grow to capture the value from technology investment.’ Put simply it’s not just about coming up with new manufacturing processes, it’s about putting plans in place to commercialise them effectively.
Are you eligible for an Innovate UK Grant?
If your company is trying to solve problems in any of these areas, you may be eligible for an Innovate UK grant. These grants can be highly lucrative but, because they’re allocated on a competitive basis, you need to make sure that your application stands out from the crowd. It can be hard to know what Innovate UK are looking for, but that’s where we come in. We have experts on hand who have years of experience with grant applications and can guide you through the process, giving you the best possible chance of success.
Get in touch today and let’s get the ball rolling.