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Innovate UK Smart Grant: January 2024

Innovate UK has just announced the January 2024 round of Smart, a major grant funding competition open to innovative SMEs in all industries.

By and large, the multiple rounds of Smart that open each year are identical to one another. However, Innovate UK has made some changes to this round, which we expect will carry forward into future editions. These changes are: 

  • The size of collaborative projects lasting 19-24 months has been capped at £1 million worth of qualifying costs, down from £2 million 
  • The maximum amount of time a project can last for reduced from 36 months to 24

Otherwise, the competition is the same. 

If you are unfamiliar with Smart, I’ve listed the key things you need to know about this potentially lucrative scheme below, including which companies are eligible and how much funding you can apply for.

If you want an expert opinion on whether you’re suitable for Smart or support developing a competitive application, GrantTree is here to help. 

Our team of PhD-level subject matter specialists and grant writing experts can give you an unbiased assessment of you and your project’s chances of success. 

If you’re looking to apply to Smart, our team can help you prepare compelling answers to each of the competition’s questions, woven together with an eye-catching narrative. 

To find out more, just get in touch.

Am I eligible for an Innovate Smart grant?

Your eligibility for Smart is determined by two things:

  • Your organisation
  • Your project

Let’s look at both in more detail.

Your organisation

To apply for a Smart grant, your organisation must:

  • Be registered in the UK
  • Carry out all of its development work in the UK
  • Plan on exploiting the results of its project from or within the UK
  • Be an SME or include at least one SME in your consortium

Not sure what a ‘SME’ is for the purposes of grants? Check out our detailed blog.

Your project

To qualify for Smart, you must be working on a disruptive project with the potential to quickly generate a return for your business and the UK economy. Your idea must be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within your sector.

Not sure whether your project ticks these boxes? Our experts can give you an unbiased, no-commitment assessment of your eligibility in just a few minutes. To claim your eligibility assessment, just get in touch

Your project must also:

  • Have total qualifying costs of between £100,000 and £1,000,000
  • Start by 1 October 2024
  • End by 30 September 2026

Projects must always start on the first of the month.

How much funding could I get?

To apply for Smart, your project’s total costs must be between £100,000 and £1,000,000.

The competition is separated into two streams: 

  • Funding stream 1 – For single and collaborative projects lasting 6-18 months, with total costs of £100,000 to £500,000
  • Funding stream 2 – For collaborative project costs lasting 19-24 months, with total costs of £100,000 to £1,000,000 

In the table below, you can see what percentage of your project costs you can acquire funding for, based on your company’s size and project type.

Project Type Micro Small Medium Large
Industrial Research Project
Experimental Development Project

So, if you’re a small business looking to deliver a £500,000 Experimental Development Project, you could secure up to £225,000 in grant funding.

How do I apply?

The Smart application has four parts:

  1. Project details
  2. Application questions
  3. Finances
  4. Project Impact

The project impact section is a recent addition to the application process for Innovate UK grants.

1. Project details

This consists of six subsections, including your application team, application details, and the scope and project summary. It is not scored but helps to set the scene for assessors. 

2. Application questions

There are eight questions in this section, covering your innovation, your justification for funding, and the potential market for your technology.

3. Finances

This is where you’ll enter your project costs, organisation details and funding details.

4. Project impact

This section is also not scored but helps to provide valuable context for the assessors reviewing your application.

Get expert advice on your Smart application

Thinking about applying for Smart? GrantTree’s Strategic Review and Coaching services let you harness our grant-writing expertise to maximise your chances of funding success.

On average, just 5% of applicants win a Smart grant. But equipped with the exclusive insights and recommendations from our Strategic Review and Coaching services, you can prepare an eye-catching submission that proves your suitability for funding and sets you apart from your competitors. 

Plus, you’ll receive comprehensive feedback from an active Innovate UK assessor, giving you unmatched insight into what the person marking your application is looking for.

Whether you want support writing your application from scratch or an active Innovate UK assessor to provide a detailed review of a submission you’ve prepared yourself, GrantTree is here to help.

Just drop us a line below!

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