Sources of funding for innovation and research and development

Innovate UK funding

The Materials and Nanotechnology Community has produced a general guide to Innovate UK funding competitions, please check the rules for each competition as some details differ.

Innovate UK will support UK businesses to responsibly deliver market leading technology solutions, channelled through high-value applications, that help to solve society's greatest challenges.


Open competitions for materials and nanotechnology

Integrated supply chains for energy systems The aim of this competition is to encourage cross-sector supply chains that can deliver integrated energy solutions at different scales to meet the many energy systems challenges of achieving a low-carbon economy by 2050. Registration closes 11 February.

Recovering Valuable Materials from Waste Innovate UK and the Engineering and Physical Sciences Research Council (EPSRC) are to invest up to £4.5m in collaborative R&D projects that seek to increase the recovery of valuable materials from waste streams. Deadline 18 February.  

Highly Robust Ground Platforms This competition seeks novel technologies to create a small, simple, crewless sensor platform (vehicle) that can maintain capability after assault from the detonation of a buried charge. Deadline 19 February.  

Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst The £45m Industrial Biotechnology Catalyst programme will support R&D for the processing and production of materials, chemicals and bioenergy through the sustainable exploitation of biological resources. Registration closes 25 February.

Managing Energy on Marine Vessels The focus of this competition is on the underlying technological challenges that will enable greater efficiencies in the production, management and use of energy. Registration closes 4 March.

UKCES Futures Programme Businesses of all sizes across the UK are invited to develop, pilot or scale-up new ways of boosting the skills and business practices needed to maximise the value of UK innovation. Deadline 11 March.

Production Line Readiness for High-value Manufacturing Innovate UK is to invest up to £1 million in late-stage experimental development projects to help companies bring recent technology innovations closer to the point of manufacturing readiness. Registration closes 25 March.

Circular Economy: Business Models Innovate UK is to invest up to £800k in feasibility studies into the business case for retaining value in durable goods through reuse, remanufacture or leasing/maintenance. Deadline 8 April. 

India-UK Collaborative Industrial R&D Programme The India-UK Collaborative Industrial R&D Programme aims to support business-led collaborative R&D projects between Indian and UK companies, working with academic organisations from both countries where appropriate. Deadline 8 April. 

Growing a Low Carbon, Resource Efficient Economy with a Sustainable Supply of Raw Materials There is a need to find alternative solutions to replace certain critical raw materials (CRMs)  or to diversify the supply of raw materials sources. This specific challenge is identified in the Priority Area 'Substitution of raw materials' of the European Innovation Partnership (EIP) on Raw Materials. Deadline 21 April.

Fit For Nuclear Manufacturers in England can now access grants of an average £10,000 to develop their readiness to enter the UK civil nuclear supply chain. No deadline announced but companies are urged to apply as soon as possible to secure a share of the funding. 

Smart (Grants for R&D) Single company grants for small to medium-sized companies for: proof of market, proof of concept  and development of prototype. This competition is always open with new assessment dates announced periodically. 

Innovation Vouchers  - £5000 for each company in Innovate UK themed areas for small businesses to work with an external expert for the first time - No fixed deadline. Also local voucher opportunities typically £2000 to £10,000 through universities and networks.

A-Z of Innovate UK funding and support tools

Full list of open and forthcoming Competitions


General funding
Horizon 2020 - Horizon 2020 is the biggest EU Research and Innovation programme ever with nearly €80 billion of funding available over 7 years (2014 to 2020).

IPO Fast Forward competition - The Fast Forward competition encourages universities and Public Sector Research Establishments to work collaboratively with businesses and local communities to maximise the benefits of innovation and Intellectual Property.

Regional Growth Fund - The £3.2 billion Regional Growth Fund (RGF) supports eligible projects and programmes that are also raising private sector investment to create economic growth and sustainable employment. 

Royal Commission for the Exhibition of 1851 - Industrial Fellowships - Open to outstanding first degree graduates in engineering, science or medicine either nominated directly through a sponsoring company or enrolled on a UK University EngD/Industrial Doctorate programme. Candidates from SMEs particularly encouraged.

Business Link (finance finder) - Find government-backed support and finance for business.

Centre for Defence Enterprise - CDE funds research into novel high-risk, high-potential-benefit innovations sourced from the broadest possible range of science and technology providers, including academia and small companies, to enable development of cost-effective capability advantage for UK Armed Forces.

British Private Equity and Venture Capital Association - The industry body and public policy advocate for the private equity and venture capital industry in the UK. 

Knowledge Transfer Partnerships - industry based, part-funded graduates with academic supervision.

EPSRC - Find out about funding opportunities and routes available to support world leading research and training.

Enterprise Finance Guarantee - The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) facilitates additional bank lending to viable small & medium-sized enterprises (SMEs)which lack collateral to secure a normal commercial loan.

Enterprise Capital Funds - Enterprise Capital Funds (ECFs) address a market weakness in the provision of equity finance to SMEs by using Government funding alongside private sector investment to establish funds that operate within the ‘equity gap'.

Manufacturing Advisory Service - Matched funding for manufacturing company growth. 

StartUp Loan Scheme -  Provides advice and start-up finance (around £2500) for 18-30 year olds looking to start and grow their own businesses.  

Business Finance Partnership (BFP) -  The government has invited the first round of proposals to help businesses access non-bank finance through the BFP, and has allocated £100 million of the BFP to invest through non-traditional lending channels that can reach smaller businesses, which could include peer-to-peer platforms and supply chain financing. 

Enterprise Finance Guarantee Scheme - The Enterprise Finance Guarantee (EFG) is a loan guarantee scheme to encourage additional lending to viable small and medium-sized enterprises. Further details can be found at: 

The Angel CoFund -  The Angel CoFund is a £100m investment fund with objectives to back promising UK businesses and help develop the important business angel investment market. 

UK export finance -  Provides trade credit insurance to exporters and guarantees to banks to support UK exports. 

GrowthAccelerator -  A partnership between leading private sector business growth experts, Grant Thornton, Pera, Oxford Innovation and Winning Pitch and backed by the UK government.

New Enterprise Allowance -  Help for unemployed people who want to start a business, with an emphasis on sustainability and growth potential.  It is available to people aged 18 and over who have been claiming Jobseeker's Allowance (JSA) for three months or more.


If you are aware of other relevant funding opportunities or find any errors and out-of-date information here, please contact Rob Mills.


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