Smart is Innovate UK’s ‘open grant funding’ programme.
Innovate UK, part of UK Research and Innovation, is investing up to £25 million in the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas. All proposals must be business focused.
Innovate UK secured an uplift in funding in the 2021 spending review, which will enable us to provide an improved range of funding and business support from April 2022. This round of the competition will be the last in the current format.
Future rounds of the Smart grant will be more focused on supporting proposals from UK based innovative businesses that are destined for early, successful commercialisation, growth and exports.
Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy, such as, but not exclusively:
- net zero
- health and wellbeing
- the arts, design and media
Your proposal must demonstrate:
- a clear game-changing, innovative, disruptive, and ambitious idea leading to new products, processes or services
- an idea that is significantly ahead of others in the field, set for rapid commercialisation
- a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
- a clear, evidence-based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible after project completion
- a team, business arrangement or working structure with the necessary skills and experience to run and complete the project successfully and on time
- awareness of all the main risks the project will face (including but not limited to, contractor or equipment failure and recruitment delays) with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk
- clear, considerable potential to significantly impact either or both, the UK economy and productivity in a positive way
- sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, which will always be a consideration in Innovate UK funding decisions
Your project should:
- demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets
- take customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions
Proposals from innovation-based businesses with significant ambition and potential for growth or scale up are welcome.
Innovate UK are not funding projects that:
- do not meet the competition eligibility or scope
- do not address the size, potential and access to market for the innovation
- do not evidence the potential for their idea or concept to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business
- 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
- 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.
Your project must:
- include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner
- start by 1 October 2022
- end by 30 September 2025
- follow specific rules dependent on its duration
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 eligible 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 eligible project costs between £100,000 and £2 million
- be collaborative
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
- carry out all your project work in the UK
- intend to commercially exploit the results from or in the UK
Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.
To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK registered:
- academic institution
- public sector organisation
- research and technology organisation (RTO)
You must carry out all your project work in the UK and intend to commercially exploit the results from or in the UK.
You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.
Innovate UK have allocated up to £25 million to fund innovation projects in this competition.
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