Throughout the year, there are many grant funding opportunities available to innovative companies, especially those developing emerging technology products. R&D grants can provide an essential source of match funding for your innovative project, which seeks to resolve a technical uncertainty by undertaking risky or innovative research and development.
Government Funding Incentives Currently Available For UK Businesses
UK companies and organizations can apply for a number of UK-based government grants and European grant funding. The main source of UK R&D grant funding is from Innovate UK, the government’s innovation agency. Innovate UK runs funding competitions which can help you develop your innovative idea and make it successful. Innovate UK funding competitions provide funding between £25,000 and £10 million and typically fund technical or market feasibility studies, proof of concept projects, and the development of prototypes.
Although Innovate UK has not yet released its delivery plan for 2017-2018, the agency has several funding opportunities currently open, including:
- Open program round 3, for game-changing, cutting-edge innovations in any area of UK enterprise and industry.
- Infrastructure systems round 3, to develop innovative solutions to challenges in infrastructure systems.
- Faraday Challenge: Innovation – research and development, to work on projects to design, develop, and manufacture batteries for the electrification of vehicles.
European grant funding for UK companies includes Horizon 2020, with nearly €80 billion of grant funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020) and EUREKA Eurostars, for innovative SMEs wanting to take part in collaborative research with partners across Europe and associated countries.
Horizon 2020 has many funding opportunities across multiple areas, including the dedicated SME Instrument, which has several topics and cut-off dates throughout the year. Funding opportunities currently open include:
- Phase 1 and phase 2 of the Open Disruptive Innovation Scheme, for companies proposing disruptive information and communications technology concepts, products, and services.
- Phase 1 and phase 2 of engaging SMEs in space research and development, especially for those not traditionally involved this area of R&D.
- Phase 1 and phase 2 of small business innovation research for Transport and Smart Cities Mobility.
EUREKA Eurostars 2 Call 8 is also currently open to small businesses wanting to work on research and innovation projects across national borders.
Innovative Companies Seeking Grant Funding Opportunities
External funding – whether from public or private sources – can help start-up companies, and other innovative businesses, set themselves up for success. Investment can help companies to speed up innovation, do things they couldn’t do alone, and access market opportunities, including additional funding.
What Are The Stages Of An R&D Grant Application?
Each grant funding competition will have its own rules and requirements, but generally, you can apply for grant funding if you want to:
- Test whether your idea will work, through a feasibility study.
- Create a new product, process, or service, or improve an existing one, through research and development.
- Work on collaborative projects with other businesses or research organisations.
You’ll need the right combination of people to cover the grants application’s key aspects: the technology, market knowledge, commercialisation plan, and financial details. Preparation of a grant application can take over 300 hours of work, so it’s best to make sure you have everything in place before you start the application process.
Once you’ve made your application, it will be evaluated by the grant funding organisation. This process varies by competition, with some competitions subject to a ‘portfolio’ approach to ensure that funds are allocated across all the strategic areas in the competition scope. Successful applications must usually meet a quality threshold.
It will generally take up to 3 months (although it can be longer) after you make your submission to be notified of the funding decision.
What Types Of Digital Innovation Projects Qualify For R&D Grants?
Your R&D grant funding application is more likely to succeed if it:
- Shows how the project results in a real innovation and doesn’t replicate products currently on the market.
- Provides a convincing company description which explains why you are more likely to succeed than a competitor.
- Includes a clear and thorough description of the business opportunity, not just a description of the project.
- Demonstrates a clear understanding of the target market, including commercialisation and competitor information.
- Has global opportunities that draw on unique strengths from the UK.
How To Ensure Your Company’s Next Project Is Eligible
Applying for an R&D grant application requires a substantial investment of time and resources. You should match your planned or existing project to the right competition – don’t try to come up with a project that fits the requirements of the competition, as you’ll be wasting both your time and the time of the grant organisation. You should only apply for R&D grants if you’re prepared to pay the costs of the entire project, as grant funding is extremely competitive and the grant money is usually paid in arrears.
All successful R&D projects start with a good idea, and projects that win R&D grant funding are no exception. You should develop your project, and your company, as if there weren’t any grant schemes available, and if you win a grant funding competition, it will be a very nice bonus.
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