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Unlocking Innovation in the UK: Your Guide to Innovate UK Funding and Support

This blog provides a comprehensive guide to Innovate UK funding and support for businesses and startups in the UK, with a focus on unlocking innovation and driving growth through emerging technologies and research and development.

Marc Greatrex

Director - Grants Division


10 minute read

Innovate UK is a public organisation established by the UK government to promote innovation and unlock growth opportunities in the UK economy. With the rapidly changing economic landscape, innovation is crucial for businesses and startups to succeed, making Innovate UK an essential asset to any aspiring entrepreneur.

The organisation provides funding, support, and promotion of emerging technologies and research and development projects that have the potential to drive innovation and growth. It aims to create an environment that encourages companies to develop new products and services, bringing fresh ideas to market and boosting the UK economy.

This blog post serves as a guide to explain the benefits of Innovate UK for businesses and startups in the UK. It explores the different types of funding and support available, who is eligible to apply, and provides a step-by-step guide on how to apply for Innovate UK funding. Furthermore, it covers common mistakes to avoid when applying and highlights successful businesses that have already received Innovate UK funding and support.

In addition, we will also discuss some of the emerging key technologies that Innovate UK is currently supporting, highlighting their potential impacts on the UK economy and society. 

As we delve further into the topic, we aim to provide a comprehensive guide to make Innovate UK accessible to all businesses and startups in the UK. We hope that by the end of this blog post, readers will have a clear understanding of Innovate UK's benefits, enabling them to unlock new growth opportunities and drive innovation in their respective industries.

What is Innovate UK?

Innovate UK's mission is to drive economic growth in the UK by nurturing and unlocking innovation. As a public organisation, it aims to support ambitious businesses and startups by providing funding, support, and opportunities to collaborate with other businesses and research organisations.

Innovate UK understands the importance of keeping pace with emerging technologies and is dedicated to promoting research and development projects that have the potential to drive growth and innovation in the UK.

To achieve its goals, Innovate UK offers different types of funding and support. This can include grants, loans, and other investment opportunities designed to help businesses take their ideas from concept to market. Additionally, Innovate UK provides access to extensive support programs, including help with creating a business plan, finding investors, and accessing specialist advice.

Innovate UK also works to encourage collaboration and partnerships by bringing together businesses, academia, and government to drive innovation. It regularly organises business events, networking opportunities, and provides technical and strategic support to closely-knit teams.

Notably, there are several funding programs in place to support and benefit enterprises and startups of various sizes and sectors. These innovative businesses can access the right funding alternatives with significant support from Innovate UK to aid in the development of their groundbreaking projects.

Innovate UK plays a significant role in driving innovation and growth in the UK. Its commitment to promoting emerging technologies and supporting businesses ensures that the UK's innovative spirit remains strong, relevant, and competitive on both a national and international level.

Who is eligible for Innovate UK funding?

To be eligible for Innovate UK funding, businesses and startups need to meet certain criteria. The criteria for Innovate UK funding can vary from grant to grant but there are often some common themes across funding opportunities.

Firstly, the company must be based in the UK or the EU, and must be collaborating with at least one other business, research organisation or public sector body.

Secondly, the project being proposed must be within the scope of Innovate UK's funding priorities, which includes key areas such as emerging technologies, sustainable development, and advanced manufacturing.

Additionally, the project must be focused on developing a new product, service or process that hasn't been developed before, or that involves significant technological advancements on existing products, services or processes.

💡Discover the latest Innovate UK funding opportunities and take your business to the next level 💡

When it comes to the types of businesses and startups that are most likely to receive funding from Innovate UK, there's no one-size-fits-all answer.

However, research shows that companies that have a clear idea of what they want to achieve, have a strong and experienced team in place, and can demonstrate a clear route to commercialisation are more likely to receive funding.

Other factors that Innovate UK considers when deciding which projects to fund include the potential economic and societal impact of the proposed innovation, the level of technical risk involved, and the level of support and funding the project has already received from other sources.

Ultimately, Innovate UK is looking for projects with the potential to drive growth, create jobs and boost the UK economy, as well as tackle important societal and environmental challenges.

How to apply for Innovate UK funding?

When applying for Innovate UK funding, it's essential to follow the application process closely to increase your chances of success.

The first step is to identify the appropriate funding competition that aligns with your innovative project. The Innovate UK website provides a comprehensive list of currently open competitions along with eligibility criteria and funding details.

Once you've identified the competition, register online and create an account on the Innovation Funding Service portal.

Before starting the application, review the competition guidance document, which provides detailed information on the application process, assessment criteria and timelines.

Begin by answering the questions in each section of the application form systematically, ensuring that you provide detailed information about your project, technology, and market potential. Pay close attention to the word count limits and avoid using technical language that may be difficult for non-experts to understand.

When submitting the application, ensure that you include all necessary attachments and supporting documents, such as project plans, budgets, and letters of support. A common mistake that applicants make is not providing detailed and realistic financial projections or failing to demonstrate how the project aligns with the competition objectives.

Another mistake to avoid is not addressing potential risks and challenges associated with the project, such as intellectual property, regulatory compliance or scalability issues. Ensure that your application clearly identifies these risks and provides a plan to manage and mitigate them.

The application process for Innovate UK funding is detailed and requires careful attention to detail. By following the step-by-step guide and avoiding common mistakes, you can increase your chances of success and secure the funding and support needed to unlock innovation and drive growth in your business or start-up.

If you need help identifying and applying for Innovate UK grants, get in touch with our team of experts today and take the first step towards unlocking innovation and driving growth for your business! We have a highly experienced team of bid writers with proven UK & European success. 

Innovate UK success stories

Innovate UK has played a significant role in driving growth and innovation in the UK, having supported numerous successful businesses and startups.

For example, Trilateral Research is a UK based enterprise, founded in 2004. They provide regulatory and policy advice; develop new data-driven technologies and contribute to the latest standards in safeguarding privacy, ethics and human rights within the public and private sector.

As a business, Trilateral Research has been involved in grant bid writing for over 10 years, primarily within the Horizon 2020 domain. Hayley Watson, Practice Manager at Trilateral, reached out to Myriad Associates as they were looking for a bid writer to support a different type of funding activity, Innovate UK.

Myriad were quick to add value to Trilateral's internal grant bid writing skill set and worked collaboratively with the Trilateral team to get their grant application to a place where Myriad felt it would likely win funding.

The reward of Myriad & Trilateral's collaborative approach led to Trilateral being awarded an Innovate UK grant to the value of £499,725.

🗝️Read the full Innovate UK success story of Trilateral Research here🗝️

Another example is  Arden Biotech, Arden Biotechnology is a Lincolnshire based start-up that specialises in developing natural, cutting-edge ways to remove antimicrobials from meat production.

Arden Biotech have worked with the Myriad Associates grant team, led by Marc Greatrex and Dr Rehman Rafiq, four times and have successfully secured funding for three large-scale projects.

The most recent application that Myriad Associates helped Arden Biotech win will fund the development of a high-tech solution that farmers can use to increase the sustainability and the efficiency of their farming and livestock processes.

Myriad Associates' grant bid writer, Dr Rehman Rafiq, the lead grant writer on the UKRI competition application, told us why he thinks Arden Biotech won over £200,000 of UKRI funding.

I believe there are three reasons we won the UKRI UK-Canada competition:

1. The positioning of the project. UKRI was looking for a specific type of project that improved sustainability and also animal welfare. We positioned this project, with its natural probiotic supplement and enhanced traceability platform, to fit the competition brief perfectly.

2. Our experience with UKRI. I’ve submitted grant applications to the UKRI for over 10 years now, so I know exactly what they’re looking for in an application. They want quantification and precise detail with no vague statements. They respect a bottom-up approach to the budget, and they also appreciate value for money. I know that UKRI wants to fund as many projects as possible, so a sensible approach to the amount of funding we requested was essential.

3. Our general approach to the application. Many grant writers like to gather information from the client and then hole themselves up to write the application in isolation, without discussing details or progress with clients.
That’s not how we do things at Myriad Associates. We believe in working closely with clients, the entire way through the grant application process because we like to make sure that we’ve captured every detail of the project."

🗝️Read the full Innovate UK success story of Arden Biotech here🗝️

Innovate UK is a crucial public organisation that provides funding and support to UK businesses and startups looking to drive innovation and growth. Its contributions to the success of businesses like Trilateral Research and Arden Biotech demonstrate the significant role it has played in creating opportunities and improving prospects for startups across different sectors.

Innovate UK's impact on these businesses has led to impressive economic growth, highlighting the positive effects of government initiatives in supporting innovation and entrepreneurship.

Emerging technologies and research and development

Innovate UK is currently supporting a wide range of emerging technologies and research and development projects that have the potential to drive significant innovation and growth in the UK.

These include cutting-edge areas such as artificial intelligence (AI), quantum technologies, and future mobility solutions. AI is one area where Innovate UK is investing heavily, with funding opportunities available to support the development of AI technologies for a range of industries such as healthcare, agriculture, and manufacturing.

In addition, Innovate UK is also looking to support research into the development of quantum technologies, which have the potential to radically transform areas such as computing, encryption, and sensing.

Future mobility solutions are another area of focus for Innovate UK, with a particular emphasis on electric and autonomous vehicles. With the UK government set to ban the sale of new petrol and diesel cars from 2030, there is a growing need for innovation in this area, and Innovate UK is supporting a range of projects aimed at improving the efficiency and sustainability of the UK's transport network.

In addition, Innovate UK is also supporting research and development in areas such as sustainable energy, clean growth, and the circular economy, all of which have the potential to drive significant economic and social benefits.

The potential impact of these technologies on the UK economy and society is substantial. For example, AI has the potential to revolutionise many industries, making them more efficient and productive, while also improving the quality of life for many people.

Similarly, quantum technologies and future mobility solutions have the potential to transform areas such as transportation, healthcare, and manufacturing, creating new opportunities for business and improving the overall competitiveness of the UK economy.

As such, Innovate UK's investment in these areas is likely to have a significant impact on the future of the UK, ensuring that it remains at the forefront of technological innovation and development.


In conclusion, Innovate UK is a vital resource for businesses and startups looking to unlock innovation and drive growth in the UK. From funding and support to the promotion of emerging technologies, Innovate UK is dedicated to helping businesses achieve their goals.

Throughout this blog post, we have explored the different types of funding and support available, as well as the eligibility criteria and application process. We have also looked at some of the key areas that Innovate UK is supporting, including artificial intelligence, clean growth, and emerging technologies.

Now is the time for businesses and startups to take action and apply for Innovate UK funding and support. With the UK economy rapidly changing, innovation is more important than ever, and Innovate UK is here to help businesses thrive.

So, if you have a groundbreaking idea or a technology that has the potential to drive growth and innovation in the UK, don't hesitate to apply for Innovate UK funding and support. With the resources and expertise offered by Innovate UK, you could be well on your way to realising your goals and making a positive impact on the UK economy and society.

In the words of Innovate UK CEO, Dr. Ian Campbell, "The UK is a rich source of innovative ideas, technologies and entrepreneurs. With Innovate UK's support, businesses can turn those ideas into reality and drive the UK's economic growth and global competitiveness."

Interested in applying for an Innovate UK grant? Myriad Associates can help:

  • Win Rate - Myriad Associates’ boast a near 70% success rate with Innovate UK smart grant applications. This is among the highest success rate in the industry.
  • Proven templates & tools for success - Our templates make it easy to collaborate & prepare a winning bid.
  • Honest & Trustworthy – We will not waste your time or money. If we feel your application won't succeed, we will tell you before we undertake the application process.
  • Highly rated UK & European bid writers - We have a highly experienced team of bid writers with proven UK & European success. We've secured over €80m in grant funding for our UK & EU clients.
  • Unlimited revisions - Our grant writers provide feedback on both successful and unsuccessful grant applications. We review this feedback with you to give you ongoing advice and guidance.
  • Risk-free Eligibility Call – Call us for a free eligibility call to see if you have an application worth applying for.

Click here to discuss your application with one of our expert grant bid writers.

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