Design Foundations July 2022

Key Features

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £2 million for early-stage, people and planet centred design projects to influence their future R&D activity.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £2 million

Opens: 6th Jul 2022

Closes: 31st Aug 2022

! This scheme is now closed


Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, will invest up to £2 million in early-stage innovation projects that use people and planet centred design processes and expertise. This funding is from Innovate UK.


Your project must generate new ideas or test and improve the customer experience, social and environmental benefits of your existing, early-stage ideas.

Your project must use a people and planet centred design approach to consider and enhance the value of your ideas. You must consider how to make your ideas more desirable and easy to adopt, so that their benefits can be realised.

You can learn more about appropriate design approaches by searching online for terms including planet centred design, life centred design, humanity centred design and design for planet.

Your project can include activities or work packages to:

  • understand market, social and environmental needs and customer behaviour
  • define problem statements and innovation opportunities
  • generate new or significantly improved ideas
  • create imagery, models, mock-ups or simulations to test ideas with customers and other stakeholders
  • use appropriate tools and models to evaluate the likely environmental and social impact of ideas
  • improve ideas in response to customer feedback and new discoveries
  • plan next steps to develop your ideas toward commercialisation
  • create design outputs to support investment pitches or funding applications

Your project can explore innovative ideas for physical or digital products, services, places or business models.

You are encouraged to respond to new discoveries made during the research and design process. This might include abandoning or rethinking your original ideas and changing the focus of planned R&D activity.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • focus on late-stage refinement or specification of ideas where fundamental design decisions have already been made
  • seek only to validate technical feasibility or progress the technology readiness level of ideas, rather than validating and improving the quality of customer experience, social and environmental benefits
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not allowed under Minimal Financial Assistance
  • are dependent on export performance, for example giving an award to a baker on the condition that they export a certain quantity of bread to another country
  • are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example if we give an award to a baker on the condition that they use 50% UK flour in their product


To lead a project or work alone your organisation must be a UK registered:

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:

Your project team must include appropriate design expertise. Businesses without this capability are encouraged to collaborate with designers as project partners.

Your project must:

  • have total costs between £40,000 and £80,000
  • start by 1 March 2023
  • end by 31 August 2023
  • last between 3 months and 6 months
  • carry out all of its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

Funding Costs

Up to £2 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

You can claim up to 100% grant funding for your eligible costs.

Grant funding in this competition is awarded as Minimal Financial assistance (MFA). This allows public bodies to award up to £315,000 to an enterprise in a 3-year rolling financial period.

In your application, you will be asked to declare previous funding received by you. This will form part of the financial checks ahead of Innovate UK making a formal grant offer.

To establish your eligibility, we need to check that our support added to the amount you have previously received does not exceed the limit of £315,000 in the ‘applicable period’.

The applicable period is made up of:

(a) the elapsed part of the current financial year, and

(b) the two financial years immediately preceding the current financial year.

Interested in applying for this competition?

Book an appointment to speak to one of our advisors to discuss your eligibility to apply for this Grant Funding opportunity.