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Innovate UK Smart Grants: September 2023

Looking for funding for a game-changing research and development project? You may be eligible for up to £1.4 million in grant funding from the September 2023 round of Innovate UK’s Smart competition. Here’s what you need to know.

If you are:

  • A UK-registered SME or working with one
  • Developing a game-changing, innovative and disruptive idea
  • Able to deliver a 6-to-36-month project with total eligible costs between £100,000 and £2 million
  • Able to start your project by 1 July 2024 and complete it by 30 June 2027

Then you may be able to acquire a large grant from the September 2023 round of Innovate UK’s Smart competition, which closes on 17 January 2024. 

Smart is industry-agnostic, meaning businesses from all sectors can apply so long as their project is innovative enough. 

While beneficial for companies not usually served by technology-specific competitions, its broad scope makes Smart fiercely competitive, with just 5% of applicants winning funding, on average.

In this blog, I’ve broken down:

  • Which companies are eligible for Smart
  • How much funding you can apply for
  • How to apply

If you want a free, easy, expert assessment of your eligibility, our grants experts would be happy to help. Just drop us a line.

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.

In addition, your project must:

  • Have total qualifying costs of between £100,000 and £2,000,000
  • Start by 1 July 2024
  • End by 30 June 2027
  • Last between 6 and 36 months
Projects must always start on the first of the month.

How much funding could I get?

To apply for Smart, your total project costs must be between £100,000 and £2,000,000. 

The competition is separated into two streams: 

  • Funding stream 1 – For projects lasting 6-18 months, with total costs of between £100,000 and £500,000
  • Funding stream 2 – For project costs lasting 19-36 months, with total costs between £100,000 and £2,000,000 

In the table below you can see what percentage of your eligible project costs you can claim back in grant funding based on your company’s size and your 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 £1,000,000 Experimental Development Project, you could earn a grant for up to £450,000.

Not sure whether you’re a micro, small, medium or large company? Check out this blog.

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

This section consists of seven questions, including 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. 

Maximise your chances of winning

If you’re considering applying to the September 2023 round of Innovate UK’s Smart competition, working with a specialist like GrantTree can significantly increase your chances of winning. 

Only 5% of applicants win funding from Smart, on average. However, supported by GrantTree’s grants experts, which have an industry-leading win rate of 65%, you could secure the funding you need to propel your technology forward. 

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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