What happens after you win an Innovate UK grant

What You Need to Do After Winning an Innovate UK Grant

Explaining what you need to do once you’ve won a grant from Innovate UK. 

If you’ve recently won a grant from Innovate UK, congratulations! As someone who’s managed dozens of grant applications, I know how thrilling it is to receive that notification email after a long, anxious wait. 

However, your relationship with Innovate UK doesn’t end once you receive the notification email. The agency requires you to complete a lot of administrative work before, during and after you deliver your project.

If you fail to fulfil these requirements on time and to a satisfactory standard, Innovate UK may withdraw your conditional funding offer. It can also withhold some of your funding, reduce your grant award, and bar you from winning competitions in the future. 

Innovate UK takes these requirements seriously. So should you! 

Innovate UK requirements

Broadly speaking, these requirements can be broken down into:

I’ve explained each of these requirements in detail below. I’ve also given you a few tips for how to complete them and explained what actions Innovate UK can take if it isn’t satisfied. 

The requirements I’ve described are specific to Innovate UK. However, many grant-funding bodies impose similar obligations. So, even if you’ve won a grant from another organisation – the Small Business Research Initiative, for example – this guide should give you some understanding of what to expect. 

Of course, it’s best to familiarise yourself with your award body’s specific stipulations, so you know exactly what’s expected of you. These should be laid out in your offer letter. 

If you have any questions about Innovate UK’s requirements or want help making sure that you successfully deliver your grant-funded project, my colleagues and I at GrantTree are here to help. Just get in touch, and we’ll be happy to guide you through the process. 

Project setup

Once you receive your notification email from Innovate UK, you need to complete the project setup in the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) portal.

In your project setup, you’ll need to provide the following information for your project: 

  • Basic administrative data, such as your address and contact details 
  • The name and contact details of your project’s finance officer
  • An updated spend profile incorporating any feedback you received from the assessors and/or monitoring officer
  • Financial records and cash flow forecasts, as requested by the monitoring officer
  • An exploitation plan
  • Collaboration agreements (if you are working with a consortium)

You generally need to complete your project setup within 90 days of receiving your notification email. 

Alongside your notification email, you’ll also be assigned a monitoring officer. Your monitoring officer will review your project setup and may come back with questions or raise issues that you will need to address before your setup is accepted and your project can start. 

They will also communicate with you directly to request information in order to track the progress of your project. It’s essential to provide your monitoring officer with the requested information within the timescales and format requested.

Once your monitoring officer has signed off on your project setup, you’ll receive your offer letter. This means your grant is no longer conditional, and your project can commence at the agreed-upon start date.

Tips for your project setup

  • Complete your project setup as soon as possible. That way, you’ll have plenty of time to make any amendments requested by your monitoring officer before the 90-day deadline.
  • Communicate and collaborate regularly with your project partners during the set-up stage to ensure mutual agreement on the spend profile, exploitation plan and collaboration agreement in order to avoid any potential issues arising after project kick-off
  • If your project setup is delayed for legitimate reasons beyond your control, make sure you explain this to your monitoring officer. If they get the sense that your setup is delayed because you haven’t engaged with the process or are not communicating appropriately, they’re more likely to penalise you and your project.

Mistakes to avoid

Your grant is conditional on Innovate UK accepting your project setup. It’s important to stress this. If the body doesn’t accept your project setup – either because it’s later or hasn’t been completed to a satisfactory standard – it may withdraw your offer. That would mean that you lose your grant. 

Completing the project setup late may mean that you have to redo your project plan and could delay your project start date by weeks or months. As a result, you may have to complete your project setup in less time or delay your project end date, which can have a range of repercussions for your company. 

Finally, Innovate UK will compare the information provided in your quarterly reports to that proposed in your application and project setup to determine whether your project is on track. So, you need to make sure the budget and exploitation plan in your project setup are as realistic as you can. If things deviate too much, Innovate UK can withhold or delay some of your funding, leaving you to cover the shortfall. 

Quarterly project and financial reporting

Innovate UK provides grant funding quarterly in arrears. 

To unlock a quarterly instalment, you need to submit detailed project and financial reports showing what work you’ve undertaken in the past 90 days, what costs you’ve incurred and how, if at all, you’ve exploited the results of your project. 

Any significant variance between the forecast expenditure and milestone targets for each quarter and the reported results will need to be adequately justified to your monitoring officer to avoid potential delays in accessing your next instalment of funding.

Project reporting

  • Quarterly progress report
  • Updated project plan
  • Project change requests
  • Updates on project exploitation

The quarterly project reports show whether your project is on schedule and hitting the key milestones you’ve laid out in your application. Innovate UK also wants to know how the wider exploitation of your project is progressing towards delivering value for money and wider societal benefit.

In many cases, you won’t fully exploit the results of your project until after it’s finished, which is why project impact is often measured for up to five years post-project completion.

You can also submit a project change request if you need to deviate materially from the expenditure plans you submitted during project setup in future quarters. If you need to spend less on employee costs but more on equipment, for example. 

Financial reporting

  • Quarterly forecasts (at the start of each quarter) 
  • Spend report (at the end of each quarter), broken down by cost category
  • Evidence of expenditure, including timesheets and invoices
  • An independent accountant report (IAR) alongside your first quarter’s submission

If your quarterly budget and expenditure differ significantly – usually by 10% or more – you will need to justify why this has happened.

Tips for your quarterly reporting

  • Select the accountancy firm that you’re planning to partner with for the IAR before your project starts. Doing this means you won’t have to rush to find one while you’re working on your project
  • Collect as much information from your partners as you can during the quarter. That way, you won’t have to rush to collect and collate everything once the quarter is finished
  • Ensure that you keep a formal record of all of your expenditure, in the form of receipts and timesheets
  • Make sure that you’re able to adequately justify any significant variance in your quarterly expenditure and project outputs achieved against those forecast
  • Communicate any issues or potential delays to your monitoring officer as early as possible. Don’t wait until the end of the quarter to mention a problem experienced at the beginning of the quarter.

Mistakes to avoid

If Innovate UK thinks your reporting is not satisfactory and that you have not sufficiently justified significant variances between your planned and actual expenditure, it can delay your grant funding instalment until it is satisfied. The agency may also bar you from future funding. 

As it says on all Innovate UK competition pages:  

“We will not award you funding if you have…

  • Failed to exploit a previously funded project
  • An overdue independent accountant report
  • Failed to comply with grant terms and conditions”

Producing high-quality quarterly reports falls under Innovate UK’s terms and conditions for grant funding. 

Also, if you do not include all of your qualifying costs, you will not receive your full allotment of grant funding, leaving you having to pay for the difference out of pocket. 

Ultimately, Innovate UK wants to fund projects that have the best chance of succeeding. It judges success by taking into account the collective benefit derived from the project and overall value to the taxpayer, which is dependent on how well you have exploited the proposed results on time, to scope, and within budget.

Your quarterly (and end-of-project) reporting is your opportunity to show Innovate UK that your project has a high chance of success and that you are or will be able to take advantage of its outcomes. Doing this successfully will strengthen your relationship with the agency; failing to do so will weaken it.

End-of-project report

The final requirement you have to satisfy is the end-of-project report. 

This report explains the overall impact of your project. It also proves it has achieved the results you laid out in your application and demonstrates that your exploitation of its outcomes is on track.  

Here’s what you will need to submit: 

  • Final expenditure statement
  • Evidence of expenditure, including timesheets and invoices
  • Final exploitation plan
  • Project impact report
  • Plan for future project impact dissemination
  • IAR

Any partner that’s incurred total projects over £50,000 must submit their own IAR.

You must generally submit the end-of-project report within 90 days of your project’s end date.  Innovate UK withholds approximately 10% of your total grant – a significant sum – until it has approved your end-of-project report. So, if Innovate UK does not accept it for whatever reason, you could be waiting a long time to receive a large share of your funding. 

Tips for your end-of-project report

  • Ask your collaborators for information – timesheets, invoices, etc – as soon as your project finishes. That’ll give you more time to collate the information you need for your report
  • Ensure that you clearly articulate the exploitation of your project and demonstrate a good return on investment for IUK by highlighting the wider social and economic benefits of your project

Mistakes to avoid

As with quarterly reporting, it’s essential that you submit your report on time and complete it to a high standard. If you don’t, Innovate UK is liable to withhold a significant percentage of your funding, leaving you out of pocket.

If Innovate UK does not think you successfully delivered or exploited your project, it may bar you from winning future grants, cutting you off from a lucrative source of external, non-dilutive funding. 

That’s why it’s important to develop a strong narrative around your project impact, highlighting the various results you’ve achieved and how they dovetail with your application.

Take the weight off your project team with GrantTree’s Grants Deployment Support service

Satisfying Innovate UK’s reporting requirements can be a daunting task. Expectations are high, there’s a lot at stake, and with your team working hard to deliver your project, it can be difficult to give reporting the time and attention it deserves.

By taking over your time-intensive claim management and reporting requirements, GrantTree’s Grants Deployment Support empowers your team to focus on project delivery while ensuring your instalments are paid in full and on time.

Our dedicated team of delivery managers and former monitoring officers boast unmatched experience in satisfying your funding body’s requirements. From initial project setup to end-of-project reporting, their strategic approach simplifies your path to project management success. 

To learn more about Grants Deployment Support or speak to one of our grants delivery specialists about your project, just get in touch.