Grants Deployment Support

Innovate UK Smart Grants: April 2024 – Everything you need to know

Innovate UK has just launched the April 2024 round of Smart grants, a competitive scheme designed to help UK SMEs commercialise cutting-edge projects. 

This round closes on 24 July at 11 am and offers companies and their collaborators up to £700,000 in funding.

Unlike most grant competitions, Smart is industry-agnostic, so companies from any sector are able to apply. So long as their project clears Innovate UK’s high bar for qualifying innovation. 

Below, I’ve explained the key things you need to know about Smart grants: who is eligible, how much funding you can apply for, and how to apply.

If you want to know whether you’re eligible, GrantTree’s grants experts can perform a free, unbiased, no-commitment assessment of your company and your project.

Request an eligibility assessment.

Am I eligible for an Innovate UK Smart grant?

To make things easier, let’s separate the two things that determine whether or not you’ll be eligible for a smart grant: your project, and your organisation and its prospective partners.

Your project

Your project needs to be highly disruptive and have the potential to quickly generate a financial return for your organisation and the wider UK economy.

Your project must look to achieve something genuinely new. It’s not enough for the outcome to just be considered disruptive within your industry.

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

It can be difficult to figure out whether a project is disruptive in the eyes of Innovate UK’s inspectors.

But it’s important to get a good handle on this before you invest days preparing an application that might not go anywhere.

If you want an expert opinion on your project’s eligibility, our grants team would be more than happy to help.

Request an eligibility assessment.

Your organisation

To qualify for an Innovate UK Smart grant, your organisation must:

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

Read more about Innovate UK’s definition of an SME.

How much funding could I apply for?

How much funding you can apply for depends on:

  • What kind of project you’re looking to conduct
  • What kind of organisation you are
  • Whether you are planning to collaborate with other organisations 
  • Your size (if you are a business) 
  • The amount of qualifying costs you’re planning to incur

Let’s look at how these factors interact with one another.

Funding streams

Innovate UK Smart grants are divided into two streams, separated by the type, length, and size of project they are able to fund.

Stream 1 – Will fund single and collaborative projects lasting 6-18 months, with total costs of between £100,000 and £500,000.

Stream 2 – Will only fund collaborative projects. They must last 19-24 months, with total costs of between £100,000 and £1,000,000.

Project type and company size

This table maps out the percentage of project costs that Innovate UK is willing to fund through the Smart competition based on your company’s size (if you are a company) and the type of project you’re looking to conduct. 

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

So, for example, if you’re a small business looking to deliver an Industrial Research Project with £500,000 in qualifying costs, you could request up to £350,000 in grant funding.

You can read more about the definition of micro, small, medium, and large businesses for grant funding purposes here.

Here’s a little more about what these two project types mean:

  • Industrial Research – Industrial research projects look to understand whether the component of a product or system being developed in the project works in real-life or operational environments.
  • Experimental Development –  Designed to make innovations ready for market deployment by testing them in real-world evironments

How do I apply for an Innovate UK Smart grant?

The application for Innovate UK Smart grants is separated into four parts. They are:

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

1. Project details

This part features 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 nine questions in this section, covering everything from your innovation and the potential market for your technology, to your justification for funding and why your expenditure demonstrates value for money. 

The first three questions aren’t scored. However, your answers to the remaining six are absolutely crucial in deciding whether or not you’re going to score a high enough mark to win funding.

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.

Thinking about applying for Smart? Let GrantTree’s experts maximise your chances of success

On average, just 5% of applicants win a Smart grant. However, you can significantly improve your chances by teaming up with GrantTree’s grant-writing experts.

Between us, we have decades of experience securing large sums of grant funding from Innovate UK, as well as a host of other prestigious funding organisations. 

We offer a range of services to suit every experience level and budget, 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 our Full Service Write, which leverages the full force of GrantTree’s expertise. 

To learn more about how GrantTree can help you win a game-changing innovation grant that will catapult your business to the next stage of growth, just get in touch.