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Innovative Technology

How innovative should my technology be to get an Innovate UK R&D grant?

Innovate UK R&D grant competitions are known to be ultra-competitive with very few winners. Only the best proposals secure funding – so how innovative does a technology need to be?

It’s true that Innovate UK is interested in clear game-changing and/or disruptive innovations. We know that disruptors are innovators, but not all innovators are disruptors. While innovation and disruption are similar, disruptive innovations displace an existing market, industry or technology; changing the status-quo to produce something new, and more efficient and worthwhile. They are at once destructive and creative. Smartphones and mobile apps are classic examples of disruptive innovation that have changed the way we live and work, while creating a whole new category of jobs (mobile app developers) that never existed 10 years’ ago.

So what happens if your innovation is clever but not disruptive? Well you have to remember this is a competition for funding. If your innovation is more evolutionary than disruptive, where will it stand in a competition against truly disruptive propositions? In cases like this, you may be better off applying for R&D tax credits, which don’t discriminate for or against disruptive innovation.

What’s crucially important though is not how innovative your technology is, but how good is the business case? Ultimately, innovation is about commercialising great ideas. You could have a great idea, but if you don’t have a strong and deliverable business plan that addresses a significant market potential and need; and you don’t have a team and facilities to deliver – then it’s going nowhere!

There’s more to winning an R&D grant than simply clever technology. It’s the business case backed up with a clear, evidence-based business plan with a good understanding of the risks and the means to deliver that ultimately wins on the day!

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