Business-led innovation in response to global disruption

Key Features

UK registered businesses can apply for a share of up to £20 million to respond to new and urgent needs in UK and global communities during and following the Covid-19 pandemic.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £20 million

Opens: 3rd Apr 2020

Closes: 17th Apr 2020

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, as part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £20 million in innovation projects.

The aim of this competition is to support UK businesses to focus on emerging or increasing needs of society and industries during and following the Covid-19 pandemic. By fast-tracking innovation, the UK will be better placed to maintain employment levels, a competitive position in global markets and make the UK more resilient to similar disruption.

Your application must demonstrate both realistic and significant benefits for society (including communities, families and individuals) or an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted by the Covid-19 pandemic.


Your application must demonstrate:

  • a clearly innovative and ambitious idea, which would realistically and significantly meet a societal need that has emerged or increased due to the Covid-19 pandemic or the need of an industry that has been severely impacted and/or permanently disrupted
  • that you have the capacity and capability to deliver the project successfully and on time during the working restrictions of Covid-19
  • the ability to start your project no later than June 2020
  • value for money

Innovate UK are interested in solutions, which tackle the new or emerging societal or industry needs in the wake of the Covid-19 pandemic, including but not exclusively:

  • community support services
  • couriers and delivery (rural and/or city based)
  • education and culture
  • entertainment (live entertainment, music, etc.)
  • financial services
  • food manufacture and processing
  • healthcare
  • hospitality
  • personal protection equipment
  • remote working
  • retail
  • social care
  • sport and recreation
  • transport
  • wellbeing

Innovate UK are also interested in projects which are both in scope and aligned to the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund (ISCF) challenges.


To lead a project your organisation must:

  • be a UK registered business of any size
  • carry out the majority of its project work in the UK
  • intend to deliver the proposed outcomes from the UK for domestic or global benefit

Sole traders are not eligible to apply for this competition.

Subcontractors are allowed in this competition. Subcontractor costs are expected to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs.

Any one business can apply for this competition with up to 2 applications. However, grant funding will only be awarded to up to 1 project per business.

Funding Costs

Up to £20 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Each organisation can apply for up to £50,000 within de minimis limits.

You can claim 100% of your project costs up to the maximum of £50,000. These will be paid in advance of the project start date.

Your project must:

  • have total eligible costs between £25,000 and £50,000
  • be able to start by 1st June 2020 at the latest
  • be no longer than 6 months in duration

The funding will be made as a de minimis grant. All applicants applying for a de minimis award must complete a de minimis declaration and provide it to Innovate UK as part of the application. This declares any and all de minimis awards, from any source of public funding, during the current and previous 2 fiscal years. Any applications that exceed the de minimis limit will be considered ineligible.


Innovate UK will not fund proposals that:

  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
  • cannot be undertaken within the working restrictions of Covid-19
  • do not evidence the potential for their proposed innovation to lead to significant and positive economic and/or societal impact, or value for money that will be achieved
  • are resubmissions of previous Innovate UK applications
  • are focused on aquaculture and fisheries, road freight transport or the production of agricultural products (due to de minimis restrictions)
  • would directly duplicate other UK Government activities already underway regarding the current Covid-19 healthcare situation, such as, ventilators and vaccines
  • do not address in their response how any potentially negative outcomes (e.g. on the environment) would be considered