Innovation loans: July 2018 open competition

Find out vital information about innovation loans and how to develop a clear and compelling application

Innovate UK, the Knowledge Transfer Network and the Enterprise Europe Network are hosting a briefing event for Innovate UK’s second Open innovation loans competition, which is currently open for application.

Innovate UK is running a pilot programme of loan competitions. A total of up to £50 million is available for business innovation projects. Innovate UK is working to broaden the range of innovation finance support available to businesses, so they can access funding at all stages of innovation. Innovation loans are for UK small or medium-sized enterprises (SMEs) that want to scale up and grow through innovation, developing new or improved products, processes or services. They can be used for late-stage research and development (R&D) projects, which have not yet reached the point of commercialisation.

Innovate UK is to offer up to £10 million in loans to SMEs for innovative late stage projects.  The aim of this competition is to provide loans to help SMEs to undertake game-changing innovations with strong commercial potential across any sector or industry.  Innovation loans will offer affordable, patient, flexible, repayable funding for later-stage research & development projects with a clear route to commercial success.  More information can be found here.

The deadline for registration for this competition is 29th August and the application deadline is noon on 5th September 2018.

The purpose of the event is to provide vital information to enable businesses to decide if an innovation loan is appropriate for them and, if so, to develop a clear and compelling application that shows that they have an innovative project and are suitable for a loan.


09:30 – Registration, refreshments and networking

10:00 – Innovation loans overview:  presentation from Nigel Walker, Innovate UK

10:45 – Financing growth through innovation:  panel discussion with Claire Johnsen, St John’s Innovation Centre / Enterprise Europe Network and Howard Partridge, Innovate UK

11:30 – Refreshments and networking

11:45 – How to write a compelling project application:  presentation from Mairi Dillon, Knowledge Transfer Network

12:15 – Our approach to credit:  presentation from Scott O’Brien, Innovate UK Loans Ltd

12:45 – Scaling through innovation:  case study

13:00 – Networking lunch

14:00 – Optional 1-2-1 or group discussions with Innovation loans team, KTN, EEN and local innovation ecosystem members

15:00 – Close

If you are unable to attend this event, there will also be similar events across the UK between 23rd and 31st July, as well as a webinar. Click here to see these other briefing events.

Innovate UK is to offer up to £10 million in loans to micro, small and medium-sized enterprises (SMEs). Loans are for highly innovative late stage projects with the best game changing and/or disruptive ideas or concepts. There should be a clear route to commercialisation and economic impact.

Projects should aim to develop new products, processes or services (or innovative use of existing ones) believed to be significantly ahead of anything similar in the field.

Your proposal can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and any part of the economy.

Projects must focus on commercialisation, growth or scale up. Priority is given to proposals likely to lead to growth, gains in productivity and/or access to new overseas markets through export.

Projects should last up to 5 years, of which up to 3 years can focus on late stage research and development (R&D), and up to 2 more years on establishing a clear route to commercial success. Loan repayments will be required over a further period of up to 5 years.

Businesses must be able to show that they:

  • can cover interest payments
  • will be able to repay the loan on time
  • need public funding

Funding type


Project size

Loans of between £100,000 and £1 million are available. Projects should last up to 5 years and are expected to start by December 2018.

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