New Innovators in Communication Networks 2024

Key Features

UK registered micro and small businesses can apply for a share of up to £500,000 to develop adoptable and investable innovations within communication networks. This funding is from the Telecoms Technology Missions Fund programme.

Programme:     Innovate UK

Award:     Share of up to £500,000

Opens: 1st May 2024

Closes: 12th Jun 2024

! This scheme is closing soon


Innovate UK is offering UK registered micro and small businesses a share of up to £500,000 in grants. In addition to the grant support, you will be offered tailored business support delivered by Innovate UK Business Growth.


The aim of this competition is to provide a package of targeted support to enable ambitious UK registered micro and small businesses to develop affordable, adoptable and investable innovations in the domain of communication networks.

Your project must provide innovation in how digital communications are facilitated or optimised toward a specific challenge.

In your application, you must demonstrate that you:

  • have a great idea
  • need public funding
  • have the capability to deliver the project
  • will deliver the project

Innovate UK are particularly interested in how your proposal will help you:

  • develop both your ambitious idea and your business
  • create a new revenue stream, for example, new products, services or intellectual property (IP)
  • evidence and enable your market, funding and commercialisation plans
  • show what is feasible, in helping you decide whether to pursue your idea further
  • catalyse further innovation on your path to commercial success
  • respond to changing market conditions

Portfolio approach

Innovate UK want to fund a variety of projects across:

  • specific challenge themes and technologies
  • project durations
  • project costs, including demonstrating value for money
  • UK regions

Innovate UK call this a portfolio approach.

Specific Themes

Your project must focus on one or more of the following:

  • optimisation of networks utilising technology such as artificial intelligence (AI) or data analytics to improve performance, reduce energy
  • software defined networks, for example, moving network functionality to platforms such as the Cloud
  • deployment and use of Open Standards within networks to advance defined use cases.
  • non-terrestrial networking technologies
  • neutral host and or mesh networking technologies


Your project must:

  • have total project costs and grant funding request of between £25,000 and £50,000
  • have total project costs that equal your grant funding request
  • start by 1 October 2024
  • end by 31 March 2025
  • last between three and six months in duration
  • carry out its project work in the UK
  • intend to exploit the results from or in the UK

Projects must always start on the first of the month and this must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application. If you exceed the total project costs of £50,000 you will be ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment. If your grant funding request does not equal your total project costs you will be ineligible and your application will not be sent for assessment.

Under current restrictions, this competition will not fund any procurement, commercial, business development or supply chain activity with any Russian or Belarusian entity as lead, partner or subcontractor. This includes any goods or services originating from a Russian or Belarusian source.

You will be made ineligible if you exceed the Minimal Financial Assistance limit. You must submit a complete declaration as part of your application.

Lead organisation

To lead a project your organisation must be a UK registered micro or small business.

If your business has been funded directly by Innovate UK previously, you are not eligible to apply for this competition. If however you have received funding directly from Innovate UK Business Growth (previously Innovate UK EDGE) or a Catapult scheme, you are still eligible to apply for this competition.

Businesses with directors who have previously received a grant or Innovation Loan from Innovate UK as part of a different company, are eligible to apply but will be considered on a case by case basis.

A business with a previous award to a parent or subsidiary would also be eligible to apply, but the parent company must be classified as a micro or small business. Applications will be considered on a case by case basis.

If you are unsure, contact our customer support team by email at least 10 working days before the submission deadline.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

You can use subcontractors from overseas but must make the case in your application as to why you could not use suppliers from the UK.

You must also provide a detailed rationale, evidence of the potential UK contractors you approached and the reasons why they were unable to work with you.

Innovate UK expect all subcontractor costs to be justified and appropriate to the total eligible project costs. Innovate UK will not accept a cheaper cost as a sufficient reason to use an overseas subcontractor.

Number of applications

An eligible UK business can submit one application only. We will only award grant funding to one project per business.

Use of animals in research and innovation

Innovate UK expects and supports the provision and safeguarding of welfare standards for animals used in research and innovation, according to best practice and up to date guidance.

Applicants must ensure that all of the proposed work within projects, both that in the UK and internationally, will comply with the UKRI guidance on the use of animals in research and innovation.

Any projects selected for funding which involve animals will be asked to provide additional information on welfare and ethical considerations, as well as compliance with any relevant legislation as part of the project start-up process. This information will be reviewed before an award is made.

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition. This means you can submit an application that was unsuccessful in one previous competition.


Innovate UK are not funding projects that:

  • do not meet the competition eligibility or scope requirements
  • purely result in reports, academic papers or similar
  • do not evidence potential for the proposed innovation to lead to significant and positive economic or societal impact
  • do not evidence value for money

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that:

  • involve primary production in fishery and aquaculture
  • involve primary production in agriculture
  • have activities relating to the purchase of road freight transport
  • are not allowed under De minimis regulation restrictions
  • are not eligible to receive 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

Funding Costs

Innovate UK have allocated up to £500,000 to fund innovation projects in this competition.

Your total project costs will be 100% funded. Total project costs detailed within your application must not exceed the maximum project size. If your total project costs are below the minimum of £25,000 or exceed the maximum of £50,000 then your application will be made ineligible.

You can make reference to any additional voluntary contribution in your application answers. It must not be detailed in the finance section.

Innovate UK will aim to pay:

  • 70% of your grant request within a month of your agreed project start date
  • a further 20% in arrears, after approval of your 70% claim and the evidence of spend made, submitted with your claim
  • the remaining 10% of the grant 10 to 14 days after Innovate UK approve your final claim

For more information on company sizes, please refer to the Company accounts guidance.

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.