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Innovate UK Smart Grants April 2024

UK registered organisations can apply for a share of up to £25 million for game-changing and commercially viable R&D innovations that can significantly impact the UK economy.

Marc Greatrex

Director - Grants Division


10 minute read

Are you an entrepreneur, a small or medium-sized enterprise (SME), or a research organisation with groundbreaking ideas that could revolutionise the world? If so, Innovate UK is offering an incredible opportunity to turn your innovative concepts into reality. With a commitment of up to £25 million in funding, Innovate UK is on the lookout for game-changing projects that are designed for swift and successful commercialisation.

What funding is available?

Up to £25 million to fund innovation projects in this competition. Funding will be in the form of a grant.

If 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 but for the purpose of this project will be undertaking commercial or economic activity.

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.

Please refer to the company accounts guidance for more information on company sizes.

If you are applying for an award funded under State aid Regulations, the definitions are set out in the European Commission Recommendation of 6 May 2003.

Research participation

The research organisations undertaking non-economic activity as part of the project can share up to 30%of the total eligible project costs. If your consortium contains more than one research organisation undertaking non-economic activity, this maximum is shared between them. Of that 30% you could get funding for your eligible project costs of up to:

  • 80% of full economic costs (FEC) if you are a Je-S registered institution such as an academic.
  • 100% of your project costs if you are an RTO, charity, not-for-profit organisation, public sector organisation or research organisation.

📖📖Read our blog article to learn all about Unlocking Innovation in the UK: Your Guide to Innovate UK Funding and Support

Your project:

If your project does not meet the eligibility criteria for this competition it will not be sent for assessment.

Your project must:

  • Start by 1 January 2025.
  • End by 31 December 2026.
  • Include at least one micro, small or medium-sized enterprise (SME) as the lead or a collaborative grant claiming partner.
  • Follow specific rules depending on its duration
  • Carry out all of 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, which must be stated within your application. Your project start date will be reflected in your grant offer letter if you are successful.

The end-by date is when all funding for this round of the competition must end. Your contracted 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.
  • Be single or collaborative.

If your project’s duration is 19 to 24 months, it must:

  • Have total eligible project costs between £100,000 and £1 million.
  • Be collaborative.

You must only include eligible project costs in your application.

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.

Lead organisation

To lead a project or work alone, your organisation must:

  • Be a UK-registered SME if you want to work alone.
  • Be a UK-registered business of any size or a research and technology organisation (RTO) if your proposal is collaborative.
  • Include at least one grant claiming 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.

More information on the different types of organisations can be found in our Funding rules.

If the lead organisation is an RTO it must collaborate with at least 2 two businesses (one SME, and one business of any size) and there must be a credible route to market for the output of the project. Since the purpose of RTOs is to speed up the process of those using their services this is expected to be through the other project partners, rather than the RTO itself.

Academic institutions cannot lead or work alone.

Project team

To collaborate with the lead, your organisation must be one of the following UK-registered:

  • Business of any size.
  • Academic institution.
  • Charity.
  • Not for profit.
  • Public sector organisation.
  • Research and technology organisation (RTO).

Each partner organisation must be invited into the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) by the lead to collaborate on a project. They will then appear on your application as collaboration partners. Once partners have accepted the invitation, they will be asked to log in or create an account in IFS. They are responsible for entering their own project costs and completing their Project Impact questions in the application.

To be an eligible collaboration, the lead and at least one other organisation must apply for funding when entering their costs into the application.

Including collaboration partners within your question responses is insufficient for an application to be considered collaborative. You must follow the above instructions to meet the eligibility requirement for collaborative proposals.

Non-funded partners

Your project can include UK partners that do not receive any of this competition’s funding. Their costs will count towards the total project costs.


Subcontractors are allowed in this competition.

Subcontractors must be based in the UK for the duration of the project and their portion of the project work must be carried out in the UK. Subcontractors can be from anywhere in the UK and you must select them through your usual procurement process.

All subcontractor costs must be justified and appropriate to the total project costs.

For the purposes of this competition the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man are crown dependencies and not classed as part of the UK. Subcontractors located there would be ineligible.

Subcontractors are not considered collaboration partners.

Number of applications

A business or research and technology organisation (RTO), can only lead on one application but can be included as a collaborator in two further applications. Any subsequent applications submitted with the same lead will be ineligible and will not be forwarded for assessment.

All project partners can collaborate on any number of applications.

Previous applications

You can use a previously submitted application to apply for this competition.

You can make a maximum of two submissions to Innovate UK with any given proposal. If Innovate UK judges that your proposal is not materially different from your previous proposal, it will be counted towards this maximum.

If your application goes through to assessment and is unsuccessful, you can reapply with the same proposal again.

Innovate UK will not award you funding if you have:


The Innovate UK Smart grant supports SMEs and their partners to develop the best game-changing and world-leading innovative R&D projects. It offers funding where other opportunities are not available or appropriate and where timing is key to ensure swift and successful commercialisation post-project completion.

To be in scope, your proposal must demonstrate:

  • A ground-breaking and innovative idea for brand-new products, processes or services.
  • An idea that is significantly different from already available products, processes or services globally.
  • An idea that is set for rapid commercialisation following project completion.
  • Clear potential to positively impact the UK’s position, productivity and competitiveness within the global economy.
  • A clear, evidence-based business plan to deliver significant economic impact, return on investment (ROI) and growth through commercialisation as soon as possible after project completion.
  • Why Smart funding is the correct potential funding for your project, and the journey you have already been on to reach the point of application.
  • A team with the necessary skills and expertise to deliver the project successfully and on time and to achieve rapid commercialisation.
  • Awareness of all the main risks the project will face with realistic management, mitigation and impact minimisation plans for each risk.
  • Sound, practical financial plans and timelines that represent good value for money, including the funding of post-project activities.

Specific themes

Your project must focus on:

  • Taking customer and user needs into account to deliver more desirable and useful solutions.
  • Identifying who is ready to buy your innovation.
  • Being developed, planned and resourced beyond the end of the Innovate UK funded project, taking into account the focus of any project partners and their existing commitments.
  • Fitting in with and complementing your ongoing business planning and development, product offerings and organisational structure to maximise chances of success.

Research categories

Innovate UK will fund feasibility projects, industrial research projects and experimental development projects, as defined in the guidance on categories of research.

Projects Innovate UK will not fund

Innovate UK are not funding projects:

  • That do not meet the competition scope or eligibility criteria.
  • Where the technology is already available.
  • That does not address the size, potential and access to the market for their innovation.
  • That does not evidence the potential for their idea to lead to significant return on investment (ROI), positive economic impact, growth and scale-up of the business.
  • That does not provide clear and realistic plans to commercialise their innovation as soon as possible post-project completion.
  • Where other Innovate UK funding support is available and more appropriate.

Innovate UK will not fund commercialisation activities such as marketing and sales.

Innovate UK cannot fund projects that 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.
  • 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.

Project dates:

  • 25 April 2024: Competition opens
  • 24 July 2024 11:00 am: Competition closes
  • 27 September 2024: Applicants notified

Interested in applying? Myriad Associates can help

  • Specialisation: We specialise in R&D grants across all sectors.
  • Expertise: Many years of specialised knowledge back our approach.
  • Personalisation: We work closely with you to craft a persuasive, highly-tuned application.

Our Results

  • €300 Million+ in Grants: Secured in the last three years.
  • DTIF: 17 wins.
  • Horizon Europe EIC: 32 wins.
  • Other EU Grants: 9 wins.

Rankings and Scores

  • #1 Ranking: Achieved three times in European grant funding applications.
  • #2 Ranking: Earned four times in European grant funding applications.
  • Top 5 Ranking: Achieved four times in Europe.
  • Perfect Score: Scored 15/15 in 3 EU funding applications.
  • Multiple Projects: Secured 2 or more projects for 10 companies.

Our market-leading team is ready to put your company front and centre, aiming to secure the R&D grants in the UK that elevate your innovation strategy to the next level.

Contact us at 0207 118 6045 or message us, and we'll call you back.

For further reading on Innovate UK funding, click on any of the links below:

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