Latest Innovate UK grant competitions - Our top 3 tips to improve your chances

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Innovate UK

As the government continues to roll out its Industrial Strategy for 2018, we look at some of the latest live grant competitions available and provide 3 top tips for how your business can gain a competitive advantage over other applicants.

Live Innovate UK grant competitions - Our top 3 tips to improve your chances.

Business Basics: Boosting SME productivity (proof of concept strand & trial strand)

Proof of concept strand:

In this competition strand, Innovate UK is funding proof of concept projects aimed at encouraging SMEs to adopt productivity-boosting technology or business practices.

Project size: For a proof of concept project, you can apply for up to £60,000 in grant funding

Project duration: Projects must start by 1st November 2018, end by 31st April 2019 and can last between 3 and 6 months

Closing date: Tuesday 4th September 2018 - 12pm

Please click here for more information

Trial strand:

In this competition strand, Innovate UK is funding trials aimed at encouraging SMEs to adopt productivity-boosting technology or business practices.

Project size: You can apply for up to £400,000 in grant funding to run a trial.

Project duration: Projects must start by 1st November 2018, end by 31st December 2019 and can last between 3 and 12 months. Evaluation of the longer-term impact may continue after the end of the project.

Closing date: Tuesday 4th September 2018 - 12pm

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Transforming accountancy, insurance and legal services with AI and data (small projects strand)

UK business and research organisations can apply for a share of £12 million from the Industrial Strategy Challenge Fund. This is for smaller projects aiming to apply AI and data techniques in new ways within accountancy, insurance and legal services. These smaller projects can be from single companies or small consortia.

Project size: Total project costs should be up to £400,000

Project duration: Projects should last between 1 and 2 years. Projects should plan to start by 1st December 2018. All projects must complete by 31st March 2021.

Closing date: Wednesday 15th August 2018 - 12pm

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Transforming accountancy, insurance and legal services with AI and data (large consortia strand):

Linked to the competition above, large consortia projects strand addresses common, sector-wide challenges requiring a co-ordinated approach across, for example, supply chains or regulators. These projects can include academic researchers in social sciences, humanities, computer science and mathematics. These projects need to show significant transformational impact on the sector.

Project size: Total project costs should be between £2 million and £4 million

Project duration: Projects should last up to 2.5 years and should plan to start by 1st December 2018 and all projects must complete by 31st March 2021.

Closing date: Wednesday 15th August 2018 - 12pm

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Open grant funding competition: round 2

Businesses have an opportunity to apply for a share of up to £20 million to deliver game-changing or disruptive innovations with significant potential for impact on the UK economy.

Project size: Total eligible project costs must be within the following ranges. Project duration between 6 and 18 months: total cost between £25,000 and £500,000. Project duration between 19 and 36 months: total cost between £25,000 and £2 million.

Closing date: Wednesday 12th September 2018 - 12pm

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Innovate UK building

Our top 3 tips to obtain a competitive advantage

  1. Clearly describe your route to market – One of the most common mistakes we find in grant applications is that companies don’t talk enough about how they plan to take their innovation to the addressable market.  We recommend that you discuss your current and potential customers, target industries and distribution channels. Try and obtain letters of intent from potential customers to support your project, wherever possible.
  2. Allocate costs to work packages – When producing your project plan, always make sure you cross-reference it to your finance plan. Allocating costs to each work package will give you a competitive advantage over other applicants.
  3. Answer all the questions – 80% to 90% of applications that are unsuccessful have not answered all the questions. One way to make sure you do answer everything is to start your answer with a subheading that refers to the topic of question, as we show in the following example:  

​​ Question: You should describe the size of the target markets for the project outcomes, backed up by references where available. 

Answer: Size & Growth of Markets: The overall market size for our solution is x.  This can be broken down into the following sub-markets (a), (b), (c) and (d).  Our immediate addressable market is (a) and (c). We already have an established customer base in these markets.  Customer x has provided a letter of intent to market, distribute and directly sell our product once we have achieved a production scale of x units per year. The market is growing at y% per year due to demand created by z.

When applying for any Innovate UK funding competitions, you must always take the time to read and properly understand the full scope and guidelines. As with any competition, eligibility rules vary and should always be read carefully to determine whether a competition is appropriate for your business and project.

To find out more info on the latest live Innovate UK grant competitions please click here.