A person speaking to a doctor via a video call on their phone. The image accompanying GrantTree's blog about Innovate UK's Investor Partnerships competition.

Innovate UK Investor Partnerships: SME Round 7

The latest round of Innovate UK’s Investor Partnerships competition has just opened, offering innovative SMEs the unique opportunity to access both grant funding and equity investment at the same time.

The Investor Partnerships competition supports projects with up to £2 million in eligible costs. It combines Innovate UK’s experience in identifying and funding truly innovative R&D with investors’ experience in finding companies best placed to deploy extra capital. By doing so, it aims to provide SMEs with the resources they need to take their innovations to market.

This competition closes on 19 June 2024. To participate, you need to secure investment from one of Innovate UK’s select pool of investor partners. Applications must be led by the investor, not the company hoping to receive funding.

Most of this scheme’s funding has already been allocated. However, you could still secure a formidable combination of equity and grant capital if your project aligns with one of two key themes:

  • Health and wellbeing – advancing life-changing cancer therapeutics or extended reality for digital mental health 
  • Next-generation digital technologies – sustainable, creative industry projects underpinned by innovative digital technology

Below are the key things you need to know about this competition:

  • Who is eligible
  • How much funding you can apply for
  • How to apply

If you’re unsure whether your company is eligible for this competition, GrantTree’s grants experts are here to provide a free, quick, no-commitment assessment.

They can guide you on whether your company and project are suitable for the Investor Partnerships scheme and how likely you are to win funding based on their considerable experience winning funding from this competition.

To request an eligibility assessment, just get in touch

Am I eligible for Innovate UK’s Investor Partnerships competition?

Understanding your eligibility for any grant competition can be tricky. You have to consider a wide range of variables, including your company, your project, your partners, and, in this case, your prospective investors.

To make things a little easier, we’ve separated out this competition’s eligibility criteria into three crucial areas:

  • Your business
  • Your project
  • Prospective investors

As mentioned above, if you would like a free, impartial assessment of your eligibility for the Investor Partnerships scheme, just get in touch. Our grants experts would be happy to help. 

Your business

To apply for this competition, your business must:

  • Be registered in the UK
  • Meet the government’s definition of an SME for grant-funding purposes
  • Carry out all project work in the UK
  • Intend to exploit the results of your project from or in the UK 
  • Be able to acquire the necessary investment through new shares or convertible debt
  • Prove that you can create a team that can deliver your proposal

Your project

Your project must focus on health and wellbeing or next-generation digital technologies. It needs to have a clear route to market, be scalable, and have the potential to have a significant market impact.

In addition, your project must cost between £50,000 and £2 million and last between 6 and 15 months. 

The size and length of project you can seek funding for within these limits depends on the kind of development work you’re looking to conduct.

If you’re planning to conduct a feasibility study, which determines whether an early-stage technology works in lab or simulated conditions, your project must cost £50,000 to £300,000 and last 6 to 12 months.

If you’re looking to embark on an industrial research project – to understand whether a solution or component of one works in a real-life environment – it must cost £100,000 to £1 million and last 6 to 15 months.

Experimental development projects, which test solutions in real-world environments, must cost £250,000 to £2 million and last 12 to 15 months.

Prospective investors

You must secure funding from one of Innovate UK’s roster of approved investment partners, listed on UKRI’s website.

Helpfully, the pool is fairly deep. It features 117 organisations, including VCs, angels, and development banks. 

How much funding can I apply for through the Investor Partnerships competition?

As the table below shows, the amount of funding you can secure depends on the type of project you’re looking to conduct and the size of your business.

Project Type Micro Small Medium
Feasibility Study
Industrial Research Project
Experimental Development Project

More on the government’s definition of micro, small, and medium-sized businesses here.

For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, the amount of funding provided by the investor must be at least equal to the amount of grant funding.

If you’re looking to undertake an experimental development project, the amount of investment you secure must be at least double the amount of grant funding you’re applying for.

How do I apply for the Investor Partnerships competition?

The application for the Investor Partnerships competition has four sections:

  1. Project details – which consists of 6 areas and is not scored
  2. Application questions – featuring 14 questions covering everything from the challenge you’re trying to resolve to proof your project demonstrates value for money for Innovate UK. 
  3. Finances – where you detail your project costs and funding
  4. Project impact – an unscored section where you provide background information on your project

Remember, the investor you’re planning to partner with must lead the application.

Maximise your chances with GrantTree’s grant-writing experts

Like most Innovate UK competitions, the 7th round of the Investor Partnerships scheme is bound to be fiercely competitive, with only a select few projects winning approval from the agency’s hard-to-please assessors. 

GrantTree can help. Our team has decades of combined experience securing funding from Innovate UK. We offer a range of services designed to suit a wide variety of budgets and approaches, from Strategic Review, where a current Innovate UK assessor will provide two rounds of detailed, actionable feedback on your application before you submit it, to Full Service Write, which leverages the full force of our expertise. 

To learn more about how GrantTree can help you secure game-changing grant and investment funding from the Investor Partnerships competition, please get in touch. One of our team will be right with you.