Open grant funding competition: round 3

Opportunity to apply for a share of up to £20 million to deliver game changing or disruptive innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy.

  • Competition opens: Monday 24 September 2018
  • Competition closes: Wednesday 14 November 2018 12:00pm


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in the best cutting-edge or disruptive ideas with a view to commercialisation.

All proposals must be business focused, rather than pure research. Applications can come from any area of technology, science or engineering, including arts, design, media or creative industries, and be applied to any part of the economy.

Proposals can fit into one or more of the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund areas. We are also happy to accept applications that fall outside of these areas.

Where appropriate, we will share application details with other potential public sector co-funders.

Project costs cannot go below £25,000 but costs over £2 million may be considered as long as they are below £3 million. This is subject to the process set out under ‘funding’.

Funding type


Project size

Duration between 6 and 18 months: total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £500,000. Duration between 19 and 36 months: total eligible project costs between £25,000 and £2 million. All projects must start by 1 April 2019 and end by 1 April 2022.

Who can apply

To lead a project you must:

  • be a UK-based business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • carry out your project in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from the UK
  • be an SME if you want to work alone
  • include an SME if you want to collaborate with others (businesses, research base and/or third sector)

Single applicants must claim funding. If the project is collaborative, the lead and at least one other organisation must claim funding.

A UK business must be eligible to receive state aid. If you are unsure please take legal advice. For further information please see our general guidance.

Partners with no funding

Projects can include partners that do not receive any funding (for example, non-UK businesses). Their costs will count towards the total project costs but they will not count as collaborators.

Multiple applications

Any business or RTO can only lead one project application per competition round. If more than one application is submitted with the same lead, only the first application will be considered for assessment.

Applicants may partner in as many applications as they wish.

An academic institution cannot lead on an application but can be a collaborator in any number of applications.

Research and technology organisations

If you are an RTO then the following rules apply:

  1. To lead on an application RTOs must have 2 or more business collaborators (one SME, and one other business of any size). There must be a credible route to market for the output of the project, and since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the progress of those using their services, this is expected to be through the partners, rather than through the RTO itself.
  2. Where RTOs are project partners, they can participate as either knowledge providers, and receive 100% grant, or as business entities, and be reimbursed a percentage of their eligible costs, depending upon their size and the nature of the work.
  3. If participating as a business, they must show that the match funding they are providing comes from entirely private sector sources, across all projects they are involved in. They must also be able to show how they will exploit the results of the project to grow the wider sector.
  4. The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

Failure to exploit

If you applied to a previous competition as the lead or sole company and were awarded funding by Innovate UK, but did not make a substantial effort to exploit that award, we reserve the right to award no more funding to you, in this or any other competition. You will not be able to contest our decision. We will:

  • assess your efforts in the previous competition against your exploitation plan for that project
  • review the monitoring officers’ reports and any other relevant sources for evidence
  • document our decision, which will be made by 3 team members
  • communicate our decision to you in writing

Previous projects

Under the terms of Innovate UK funding, you are required to submit an independent accountant’s report (IAR) with your final claim. If you or any organisation in your consortium failed to submit an IAR on a previous project, we will not award funding to you in this or any other competition until the documents have been received.


If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be classed as a resubmission.

If your application is unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal once more, taking into account the feedback received from the assessors. You can reapply into another round of this competition or another competition. In other words, you can make a maximum of 2 applications in total to Innovate UK with any given proposal.


We have allocated up to £20 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.

If your project has total eligible costs or duration outside the specified range it will be deemed out of scope and ineligible.

Total eligible project costs must be within the following ranges:

  1. Project duration between 6 and 18 months: total costs must be between £25,000 and £500,000 and may be either single company or collaborative applications.
  2. Project duration between 19 and 36 months: total costs must be between £25,000 and £2,000,000 and must be collaborative.
  3. If you wish to submit a project between £2 million and £3 million as a permitted exception, you must email customer services with full justification at least 10 days before applying.
  4. Project costs below £25,000 will be deemed ineligible.

The research organisations in your consortium can share up to 30% of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation, this maximum will be shared between them.

This competition provides state aid funding under the General Block Exemption Regulation. It is your responsibility to make sure that your organisation is eligible to receive state aid.

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