Business Basics 2 – Proof of Concept

Key Features

A share of up to £2 million is available to run proof of concept projects aimed at how to encourage SMEs to adopt productivity boosting technology or management practices.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 28th Jan 2019

Closes: 17th Apr 2019

! This scheme is now closed


The Business Basics Fund aims to test innovative ways of encouraging SMEs to adopt existing technologies and business practices that boost productivity.

This competition is for proof of concept projects for ideas that are in early development.


Your proposal must relate to the actions SMEs can take to become more productive by:

  • adopting tried-and tested technologies, accountancy, CRM or HR software or payment systems
  • adopting modern business practices
  • improving their use of such tried and tested technologies and management practices already active within the business
  • or a combination of the above

Your project must also:

  • demonstrate the potential to be effectively scaled up
  • be innovative
  • meet the time and cost requirements of the competition
  • comply with the General Data Protection Regulation (GDPR)

Project results will be independently evaluated and published. In applying for this competition, you agree to share all data collected as part of the trial with BEIS and any appointed contractor.

You may want to consider approaches that:

  • address information failures and improve awareness of relevant technologies and management practice
  • build firms’ confidence of how technology and management can be applied in their business
  • facilitate advice and adoption through trusted advisors, supply chains, informal peer-to-peer networks
  • explore the how the absence or presence of complementary practices and systems in a firm affect adoption
  • compare whether lower cost and more scalable interventions can deliver similar benefits to more intensive support
  • explore specific issues which face firms with specific characteristics, for example family run firms


To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based public sector organisation, university or research and technology organisation (RTO), charity, not for profit company or business of any size
  • have a legal entity
  • agree to have your project’s results independently evaluated and published
  • follow the principles outlined in the BEIS Business Support Evaluation Framework
  • work with BEIS and the Innovation Growth Lab based at Nesta to establish ways to improve the evaluation elements of your proposal

Lead applicants must claim funding. You can work alone, or in collaboration with other organisations.

Projects involving diverse organisations are welcome.

To be a funded collaborator you must:

  • be a UK based business, academic organisation, charity, not for profit company, public sector organisation or research and technology organisation (RTO)
  • have a legal entity

Funding Costs

You can apply for up to £60,000 in grant funding to run a proof of concept project.

You can receive funding of 100% of your project costs. For universities, this equates to 80% of full economic costs (FEC).

You must carry out your project work in England.

Projects must start by 1 September 2019, end by 31 September 2020 and last up to 12 months. Evaluation of the longer-term impact may continue after the end of the project.


Projects will not be funded if they:

  • focus mainly on developing new technology or software
  • do not focus on increasing the adoption of technology or management practices
  • do not address the target audience of mid to low productivity SMEs
  • do not generate robust evidence or have a measurable outcome
  • do not align with the objectives of the Business Basics Fund