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Writing an R&D grant application

How to write a winning R&D grant application

One of the essential skills we bring to writing R&D grant applications is our ability to write clearly and succinctly. You typically get 600 words per question to convey your business pitch – and it doesn’t help that the application forms mercilessly cut off words over the limit.

When writing your first Innovate UK R&D grant application, you may feel that 600 words per question is a lot. You may struggle to “fill up” all that blank space. However, one of the signs of a superb grant application is that you start really having to cut and distil content for many of the questions. When you’re covering everything you need to say, 600 words is in fact, very tight. It’s really difficult to condense a convincing business opportunity pitch, using high-level narrative and supporting statistics, into 600 words. It’s even harder to do that in a way that inspires an assessor so they are really enthused by your proposal.

The worst thing you can do when struggling to answer a question is to ramble on without actually saying anything:

“Based on our extensive market research, it was clear that the best way forward for achieving our desired business objective was to focus a dedicated project onto the task of developing a new product.”

This sentence says very little – it is 34 words and 200 characters of fluff! Assessors will also see it as such. A better way to say more in less space is:

“Direct market research undertaken in 2016 confirmed that over 85% of respondents wanted a new product.”

This is more concise and more specific, and therefore makes a more convincing case. And it’s only half the words, which means you can include more supporting evidence within the 600 words.

R&D grants are highly prized and consequently applications are very competitive.  Every word and character you put into your application has to confidently convey that you’ll achieve good results.

In summary, the challenge with grant writing is not to stuff applications full of pointless words – it’s to make sure that every word adds value.

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