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Innovate UK announces new Open Sector R&D grants competition

Barely days after the current open sector R&D grant competition closes, Innovate UK opens another one! Opening on 1st March 2018, Innovate UK will invest up to £15 million in the best game changing or disruptive ideas offering R&D grants up to 70% grants towards a project costing up to £1 Million.

The open sector competitions are particularly sought after. That’s because most Innovate UK funds are allocated in 4 priority growth areas:

  • Emerging and enabling technologies
  • Heath and Life Sciences
  • Infrastructure Systems
  • Manufacturing and Materials

Any innovation, including ideas from arts, design, media or creative industries, can be submitted in the Open sector round. However, it does make this competition very, very competitive simply because of the huge number of applicants with great ideas.

These R&D grants are not for mundane, me-too ideas. If you’re simply slightly improving on what’s already out there, you’d be better off claiming R&D tax credits instead. To stand a chance of getting an R&D grant, you new product, process or service really needs to be significantly ahead of anything similar in the field.

What really excites Innovate UK, are innovations that can make a real improvement to UK productivity and/or access new overseas markets through export-led growth.

Innovate UK has allocated a further £15M in this funding competition which closes on 9th May 2018. Projects can focus on:

  • Feasibility studies (including market research)
  • Industrial research
  • Experimental development

The grant funding pays more towards earlier stage R&D activities such as feasibility studies and industrial research. These are funded at a rate of 50% to 70% of project costs depending on size of business. Closer to market R&D activity, such as experimental development of a prototype, is funded at 25% to 45% of project costs depending on business size.

Applicants will need to present a solid business case with the potential to lead to significant return-on-investment (ROI), positive impact, growth and scale-up of their business. Only the very best business-led cutting-edge or disruptive innovations that can evidence a strong, deliverable business plan will succeed in winning R&D grant funding.

It is surprising that a further round of R&D grant funding was announced so soon. The good news is that it offers hope to those latecomers who discovered the latest open sector competition too late. It can take 6 to 8 weeks to prepare an application of the right quality to stand a chance of winning. They now don’t need to wait 6 months for another chance at winning R&D grant funding.

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