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What the Election Means for UK Innovation Grants

Dr Rachael Rowlands-Jones, PhD, explains how the upcoming election will affect government-funded innovation grants.

Prime Minister Rishi Sunak’s surprise calling of a 4 July election is bound to whip pollsters, politicos, and political commentators into a frenzy.

However, this unexpected announcement will also have consequences for companies hoping to apply for grant funding. Here’s how.

A period of purdah

The UK government’s activity is restricted in the run-up to the election. According to the Institute for Government, this is to prevent the “inappropriate use of official resources.”

The time when these restrictions are in effect is known as the ‘pre-election period’. The pre-election period is commonly referred to by its previous name, purdah, especially in government funding circles. 

During purdah, the government cannot launch new grants. As a result, all competitions that UK Research and Innovation (UKRI) and its research councils, such as Innovate UK, had planned to launch between the dissolution of Parliament (30 May) and polling day (4 July) may be postponed.

Alternatively, the government could decide to rush out some competitions out before Parliament dissolves in order to meet its commitments on Innovate UK investment. This happened before the last election in 2019. 

My colleagues and I will be keeping a close eye on what competitions are released in the next seven days. 

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Existing competitions will remain live

The silver lining is that any competitions that are already live – such as the April 2024 round of Innovate UK’s popular Smart scheme, which closes on 24 July and offers innovative SMEs up to £1,000,000 in grant funding – will remain open.

This is also true for the Farming Futures: Nutrient Management Phase 1 competition, which offers a £15 million prize pot across two strands to support “innovative solutions for nutrient management”. 

These competitions can remain open because their funding was committed before the pre-election period. Therefore, it is not deemed to be interfering with the democratic process.

For a recap of what other grant competitions are available to UK businesses, check out the latest edition of GrantTree’s Grants Watch.

This edition features a wide range of competitions, including three that are not tied to a specific industry or type of technology, which makes them more accessible to businesses that don’t operate in the kinds of industries that typically attract more grant funding.

Find out what grants you’re eligible for

Although the election may delay some grant funding competitions, there are still plenty of opportunities for UK companies looking to secure grant funding.

If you want to explore what grants are available to your business and get an unbiased and expert assessment of your chances of success, just get in touch.

Our grants experts would be happy to help you identify suitable competitions that could catapult you to the next stage of success.