March 2018 sector competition: Open

Key Features

UK businesses can apply for a share of £15 million for game-changing innovations with strong commercial potential that will significantly impact the UK economy.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Up to £700k

Opens: 1st Mar 2018

Closes: 9th May 2018

! This scheme is now closed

Innovate UK will invest up to £15 million in highly innovative projects with the best game changing and/or disruptive ideas or concepts. This should be with a view to commercialisation and economic impact.

Projects should aim to lead to new products, processes or services (or novel use of existing ones) believed to be significantly ahead of anything similar available in the field.

Proposals can come from any technology (including arts, design, media or creative industries) and any part of the economy.

Projects must focus on commercialisation, growth or scale up as soon as possible following completion. Priority is given to proposals likely to lead to growth, gains in productivity and/or access to new overseas markets through export.

To be in scope, a proposal must demonstrate:

  • a clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovative idea
  • that your idea can lead to novel new products, processes or services that are significantly ahead of others in the field
  • a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses (and documents) market potential and needs
  • 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 with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each
  • sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money
  • a clear, evidence based plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation, as soon as possible following project completion

Priority will be given to proposals most likely to lead to sustainable productivity gains or access to new overseas markets through export led business growth.

This competition aims to help businesses overcome barriers to the best cutting edge, game changing innovations becoming a successful commercial reality. This includes making a considerable economic impact and/or resulting in significant, sustainable business growth. This is to be consistent with the government’s industrial strategy.

Competition demand is likely to be very high. You will be competing against proposals for some of the most advanced, cutting edge innovations in the UK and beyond. You need to be certain that this is the right competition for your business, and that your proposal is in scope.

Specific themes

Successful proposals must:

  • demonstrate a clear, considerable potential to make a significant and positive impact on the UK economy and/or productivity
  • demonstrate realistic, significant potential for global markets


To be eligible for funding you must:

  • be a UK based business of any size
  • carry out your project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results in or from the UK
  • work alone or in collaboration with others (businesses, research base or third sector)

Funding and project types 

Total project costs should be between £25k and £1m depending on the type of research and development (R&D) to be undertaken. Project duration should be a minimum of 6 months, and a maximum of 3 years.

  • For feasibility studies (which may include market research) and industrial research projects, you could get up to 70% of your eligible project costs if you are an SME
  • For experimental development projects which are nearer to market, you could get up to 45% of your eligible project costs if you are an SME