Smart is Innovate UK’s responsive grant funding programme. It has focused eligibility criteria and scope to support SMEs and their partners to develop disruptive innovations with significant potential for rapid, economic return to the UK.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing, and world leading ideas, designed for swift, successful commercialisation. Ideas need to be genuinely new and novel, not just disruptive within their sector.
Your proposal must be business focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion.
The Smart grant funds a cross-sector portfolio of the best game-changing, and world leading projects. It offers funding where other opportunities are not available or appropriate, and where timing is key to ensure swift and successful commercialisation post-project completion.
To be in scope your proposal must demonstrate:
- a game-changing, innovative, and disruptive idea that will lead to new products, processes or services
- an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
- clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity and competitiveness within the global economy
- a clear, evidence based business plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
- why Smart funding is the right potential funding for your project, and the journey you have already been on to reach the point of application
- a team with the necessary skills, and expertise to deliver the project successfully and on time, and to achieve rapid commercialisation
- awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
- sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, including the funding of post-project activities
Your proposal must:
- take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions
- identify who is ready to buy your innovation
- be developed, planned and resourced beyond the end of the Innovate UK funded project, taking into account the focus of any project partners and their existing commitments
- fit with and complement your ongoing business planning and development, product offerings and organisational structure to maximise chances of success
Innovate UK are not funding projects:
- that do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
- where the technology is available or used in another sector
- that do not address the size, potential and access to market for their innovation
- that do not evidence the potential for their idea to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business
- that do not provide clear and realistic plans to commercialise their innovation as soon as possible post-project completion
- where other Innovate UK funding support is available and more appropriate
- that are dependent on export performance, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it exports a certain quantity of bread to another country
- that are dependent on domestic inputs usage, for example giving a subsidy to a baker on the condition that it uses 50% UK flour in their product
Innovate UK will not fund commercialisation activities such as marketing and sales.
If your application does not meet the eligibility criteria for this competition, it will be marked as ineligible and will not be sent for assessment.
Your project must:
- start by 1 January 2023
- end by 31 December 2025
- include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
- follow specific rules dependent on its duration
- carry out all of its project work in the UK
- intend to exploit the results from or in the UK
The end by date is the date by which all funding for this round of the competition must end. Your contracted project end date will not be extended.
If your project’s duration is 6 to 18 months, it:
- must have total project costs between £100,000 and £500,000
- can be single or collaborative
If your project’s duration is 19 to 36 months, it must:
- have total project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
- be collaborative
You must only include eligible project costs in your application.
To lead a project your organisation must:
- be an SME if you want to work alone
- be a UK registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if collaborative
- include at least one SME if you are a large business or RTO and wish to collaborate with other UK registered businesses, research organisations, academic organisations, public sector organisations or charities
- claim grant funding
Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- business of any size
- academic institution
- not for profit
- public sector organisation
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
Up to £25 million has been allocated to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.
If the majority of your organisation’s work on the project is commercial or economic, your funding request must not exceed the limits below. These limits apply even if your organisation normally acts non-economically.
For feasibility studies and industrial research projects, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 70% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 60% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 50% if you are a large organisation
For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get funding for your eligible project costs of:
- up to 45% if you are a micro or small organisation
- up to 35% if you are a medium sized organisation
- up to 25% if you are a large organisation