UK innovation grants

Innovation funds are grant funding programmes that offer financial backing to organisations and groups that are looking to research and develop a process, product or service, test innovative ideas and/or collaborate with other organisations.

Grants are the best kind of funding available for innovative firms. You don’t lose any equity, and you never have to pay the money back. These are provided by a variety of funding bodies such as Innovate UK to support innovative ideas and business growth, including those from the UK’s world-class research base.

Innovation grants

Is my business eligible for an innovation grant?

If your business has a focus on innovation or you are trying to bring a new product to the market, innovation grants could be a good option to explore.

Some of these funds require you have a registered office in the UK while others might require you to be based in the EU. Funding may be more likely for businesses with multiple employees and for innovation grants those that have an original solution which uses innovative technology to solve a substantial problem will be most likely to attract funding.

Not after innovation funding? Find out more about other types of business grants you may be eligible for.

Current UK innovation grants

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Innovate UK Smart Grant

£100,000 - £500,000

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Multiple rounds

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  • Your proposal must be business focused, with deliverable, realistic, adequately resourced plans to achieve return on investment, growth and market share following project completion.
  • Applications can come from any area of technology and be applied to any part of the economy such as, but not exclusively, net zero, the arts, design and media.
  • Project length: between 6 months and 18 months
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ESA Business Applications’ Call for Proposals

max £500,000

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31/12/2025

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  • This opportunity is intended for the progression of a new service which uses satellite navigation, satellite telecommunication, earth observation, space, weather, and/or space technologies
  • Project length: 6-24 months
  • 50-80% of project funding available
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DASA Open Call for Innovation

£100,000 - £350,000

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Multiple rounds

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  • The open call is looking for innovative ideas to improve the defence and/or security of the UK. Your idea could be a concept, technology or service.
  • The majority of successful projects start at TRL 2 or 3, which means the basic concept has been formulated and the underpinning technological principles observed at the outset.
  • Your project must complete by March 2024
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SBRI: Decarbonising concrete

£500,000

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04/03/2024

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  • The aim of this research, development and demonstration competition is to make the commercial adoption of lower carbon concrete happen faster. The results will enable engagement between innovation projects and end users.

  • The purpose of this competition is to demonstrate market demand, commercially de-risk innovations, encourage investment, and accelerate adoption.

  • Your project must last between 9 and 12 months
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Farming Innovation Programme: large R&D partnerships, round three

£3,000,000 - £5,000,000

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13/03/2024

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  • The aim of this competition is to fund industrial research and experimental development projects that will address major on-farm or immediate post farmgate challenges or opportunities. And also drive the development and demonstration of commercially relevant solutions with the potential to substantially improve overall productivity, profitability, and environmental sustainability

  • Your project must last up to 48 months.

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APC25: industrialising net zero automotive technology

£2,500,000 - £20,000,000

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13/03/2024

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  • The aim of this competition is to support collaborative R&D projects that design, develop and manufacture technology. These proposals will work towards delivering net zero on-vehicle technologies for on-road or off-road vehicles, including 2 wheelers.

  • Your proposal must be a collaborative, pre-production research and development (R&D) project that supports the UK’s vision and underpin core capabilities by securing long term R&D investment.

Andrea Reynolds, Swoop’s CEO & Co-Founder
Andrea Reynolds
Swoop’s CEO & Co-Founder

A word from Andrea

"Grants are one of the best kinds of funding available for innovative firms. If your business has a focus on innovation, or you are trying to bring a new product to the market, innovation grants could be a good option to explore."

Looking for other types of business grants?

The Swoop platform has over 400 business grant options for UK SMEs of different sizes and sectors – check your eligibility and apply quickly and easily.

How Swoop can help

Step number 1

Identify grants

At Swoop we will work to understand your business and aspirations so that we can best match your project to the most suitable grant funds. Your chance of securing grant funding improves the more precisely your project fits with the scope of the relevant grant fund.

Step number 1
Identify grants
Match you with a grant writer
Step number 2

Match you with a grant writer

If you need some help with your application or just some finishing touches, we will match you to the best grant writers who will use their experience to deliver and submit the grant application as well as helping negotiate due diligence and any future grant funding needs.

Match you with a grant writer
Step number 3

Prepare application

Our grant writers will save you hours of time and energy in writing an application that is as strong as possible while keeping in regular contact with you to update you on the application progress.

Step number 3
Prepare application
Continued support
Step number 4

Continued support

Ensure you get the maximum value out of your grant funding through continued support and advice on best use of your grant.

Continued support

Key UK innovation grant providers

Innovate UK

Innovate UK

Innovate UK are a governmental agency and the main channel for businesses to secure UK innovation funding. The Innovate UK Smart Grant is the government’s flagship grant programme, with £125 million to give to British businesses each year.

The Smart Grant is Innovative UK’s ‘open grant funding’ programme which seeks ‘the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas’ from almost any industry. All proposals must be business focused.

Horizon Funding

Horizon Funding

Horizon Europe is the financial instrument implementing the Innovation Union, a Europe 2020 flagship initiative aimed at securing Europe's global competitiveness. It provides research and innovation funding for multi-national collaboration projects as well as for individual researchers and supports SMEs with a special funding instrument.

Arts Council England

Arts Council England

The Arts Council are looking for organisations, artists, events, initiatives and others to apply for funding and help us achieve their strategy.

Let's create.

Tips for applying​

Timing. Ensure you are applying at an appropriate stage and have a clear opportunity to take advantage of.

Define this opportunity and make sure you have done thorough market research and can show this.

Have a defined project and outline the specific problem or need for this project.

Outline your costs involved in the project and ensure you justify why they are needed and how much is needed to cover these costs.

Staff costs can be included here but must be justified and can be a percentage of the relevant staff’s time.

Outline a timeline and projections of progress expected to be achieved as these will be monitored closely if you are successful.

Swoop promise
At Swoop, we want to make it easy for SMEs to understand the sometimes overwhelming world of business finance and insurance. While we adhere to a strict editorial policy, our goal is to simplify complex matters, offer transparent information, unravel jargon, and empower businesses to confidently make smart financial decisions.

What is an innovation grant?

Innovation is defined as the process of trying something new or different that has the potential to address an identified need or problem.

An innovation grant is a fund given by an entity, typically a government or grant funding institution, to a business for a specific innovative project that is linked to public benefit. Unlike business loans, grants are not to be paid back.

What is a Smart Grant?

The Smart Grant is Innovative UK’s ‘Open grant funding’ programme which seeks ‘the best game-changing and commercially viable innovative or disruptive ideas’ from almost any industry. All proposals must be business focused. The competition usually runs three to four times a year and project costs range from £25,000 to £2 million.

How do I get funding for innovation?

If your business has a focus on innovation or you are trying to bring a new product to the market, innovation grants could be a good option to explore. These are provided by a variety of funding bodies such as Innovate UK to support innovative ideas and business growth, including those from the UK’s world-class research base. e.g. NHS Future hospitals initiative, Innovate UK Smart Grant, European Space Agency grants, and Horizon Europe.

How do Innovate UK grants work?

Innovation grant funding covers a variety of cost centers including staff costs, at a rate of up to 70% if you are an SME. This intervention rate from the funder is in the form of a non-repayable, non-dilutive grant – you don’t have to give away any hard-earned equity or pay back any interest.

One of the potential downsides of grants is they typically take six months from applying to deliver funding at the start of your project.

How do I apply for innovation funding?

Some of these funds require you to have a registered office in the UK while others might require you to be based in the EU. Funding may be more likely for businesses with multiple employees and for innovation grants, those that have an original solution which uses innovative technology to solve a substantial problem will be most likely to attract funding.

Grant funding is a competitive and often time consuming application process. To ensure a successful approach you need to have a defined project before commencing the bid writing process.Register with Swoop to speak to an innovation grants expert and give yourself the best chance of success.

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