To find out more about the competitions currently available you can visit either the Innovation Funding Service (IFS) or the funding finder on the UKRI website. Through these links, you can review the competitions available and decide which ones may be right for you.
The government also offers other opportunities for businesses to get finance and support.
Innovate UK reserves the rights to host competitions on a needs basis and will adjust each competition criteria and scope accordingly. We may occasionally run closed competitions that are for invited applicants only. These are run based on the challenge requirement or need.
Innovate UK manages various types of funding opportunities which are listed below.
UKRI Challenge Fund
Through this fund, the government is bringing world-class research and businesses together to take on the major industrial and societal challenges of our time.
The challenges are aligned with the four grand challenges (GOV.UK) named in the industrial strategy.
New challenges and funding opportunities are announced intermittently.
Innovate UK Smart grants
Innovate UK Smart grants support the best game-changing, highly disruptive and commercially viable ideas that have the potential to positively impact the UK’s economy and growth.
Funding is available for projects at various stages, from feasibility studies through to developing and testing a prototype. Proposals can come from any area of technology and be applicable to any part of the economy.
Projects can either develop a brand new product, service, or process, or take an existing technology or service above and beyond what is currently available.
- include a small medium enterprise (SME)
- be set for rapid commercialisation
- carry out all works in the UK
Knowledge transfer partnerships
You can get funding to bring in new knowledge and expertise through a knowledge transfer partnership (KTP). Taking part will allow you to work with an academic organisation and a highly qualified graduate to innovate within your business.
You can apply if you are a UK registered business or not-for-profit organisation.
Each KTP is a three-way partnership between:
- a UK registered business of any size or a not for profit organisation (including social enterprises and charities)
- a knowledge base, this could be a university, college, research and technology organisation or catapult in the UK
- a suitably qualified graduate, with the capability to lead a strategic business project
Small Business Research Initiative (SBRI)
Through SBRI, you can apply for funded procurement contracts with government organisations to develop their innovative ideas.
Public sector organisations that have successfully run SBRIs include:
- the NHS
- Ministry of Defence
- the former Department of Energy and Climate Change
Innovation loans aim to provide affordable, flexible and patient capital to SMEs. They will support late-stage research and development projects with a clear route to commercialisation and business growth through innovation.
To receive a loan you need to apply for, and be successful in, a loan competition.
Your application must show that you have a high quality innovative project, your business is suitable to take on a loan and that you need public sector support.
Investor partnership programmes offer a package of public sector grant funding alongside private equity investment to support ambitious businesses with innovative early-stage research and development projects.
The aligned investment means that the business is better capitalised and with supportive investors provides a clearer route to commercialisation.
Innovation to Commercialisation of University Research (ICURe)
The ICURe pilot programme funds research teams to accelerate the time it takes to get ideas out of the laboratory and to commercialisation.
If your organisation is a start-up that has emerged through the programme, you could get funding to help you establish your business and support future growth.
The Biomedical Catalyst funds businesses and researchers to test and develop innovative health and care projects.
It supports the acceleration and scale up of ideas that, prevent and manage diseases, offer better detection and diagnosis, and create tailored treatments to improve patient outcomes.
The programme is run by Innovate UK and the Medical Research Council.
This programme offers funding to businesses and researchers to develop ideas for tackling the global need for clean, affordable and secure energy.
It funds projects from early stage through to commercialisation to quickly develop and bring innovative new energy solutions to market.
The programme is run by Innovate UK with co-funding from partners including the:
- Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council
- Department for International Development
- Department for Business, Energy and Industrial Strategy
We run a number of initiatives that can help you get access to international opportunities and partners. This includes Horizon Europe, EUREKA Eurostars and the Newton Fund. These are open to a range of organisation sizes and types.
Innovate UK also manages funding competitions on behalf of other organisations. Details and how to apply are published as new competitions are announced.