This post is written to give a more comprehensive guide to the innovation incentives that the government can offer to your company. If you would like any more information, or you would like to book a call with us, get in touch and we'll do everything we can to accommodate you.
- Smart Grant and other funds
- Innovation Loans
- Innovate Edge
- Global Incubator Programme
- Global Business Innovation Programme
- Horizon Europe 2020
- European Enterprise Network
- EIC Accelerator
- Eureka Eurostars
- Era Net
- R&D Tax Credits
- Patent Box
- Creative Industry Tax Reliefs
- Local Grants
- Catalyst Competitions
- Catapult Centres
- Industry Specific Centres
UKRI is a government department based around finding the best companies and products and providing them with suitable support in the form of money, business support, or both. With this being government funded, the competitions are often highly contested, so it is wise to find other forms of support if possible first.
Smart Grants and other funds:
Innovate UK Smart grants are Innovate UK's most popular grant. It is an open scope grant, not to be mistaken with no scope, that can provide substantial capital along with support to ensure the project runs smoothly and on time. Open scope grants are excellent, however it is recommended to find an Innovate UK grant, or any other UKRI grant, that suits your project as the odds of winning increase substantially.
Other grants are less contested and, due to them being industry specific, your project will stand out more. For a list of all the UKRI grants, see here.
Innovation loans are given out by the government to provide a flexible capital to support business growth. These can be accessed by applying to the competitive loans process. Due to the corona virus pandemic, these loans have become more popular, with over 100 SMEs being granted a loan.
This system provides the company with support in the form of an innovation and growth specialist. This specialist will identify the most effective ways for your business to grow and maximise the potential of your business or product. This could be access to IP expertise, investor networks, or sourcing finance, among others.
This incentive gives access to a comprehensive, two day pitch training session with leading investment experts. They give a tailored experience suited to your business to make your elevator pitch stand out above the rest. This can give your company the ability to improve their odds of receiving funding, as well as giving them experience in pitching their ideas with real investors before they begin their search for investment.
Global Incubator Programme:
Cohorts of 6-8 SMEs explore the potential of their business in the international market while working with world-leading incubators abroad. These countries include America, Canada, India, and Singapore. Innovate UK cover all costs with regards to the training and incubation, however, the cost of staff wages, flights, and accommodation required.
Horizon Europe 2022:
One of the larger incentives in Europe, this €95b+ scheme sets out to tackle climate change, create jobs, and boost the competitiveness and growth of the EU. While the UK has left the EU, applications can still be made by UK companies in the same manner as EU applicants. While the Eu has not fully formalised our re-joining of the scheme, the UKRI has confirmed that successful applicants will be funded regardless of our status on re-joining.
European Enterprise Network:
The EEN offers many different services, including international partnerships, advice for innovation growth, support for business growth, partnership opportunities, and more. They hold events around Europe for marketing, matchmaking, and showcasing that can be attended by most businesses. This network is perhaps one of the most useful places to check out for innovative businesses looking for guidance.
The EIC Accelerator is designed to support individual SMEs, with a primary focus on start-ups and spinout companies with game-changing innovation in mind. They can provide grant funding up to €2.5m for innovation costs as well as investments up to €15m for scaling the technology. A list of success stories can be found on their site.
The largest international funding programme for innovative SMEs collaborating on R&D projects, Eureka Eurostars offers funding and partnerships with other SMEs, research centres, and universities from 37 different countries while improving the perception private investors will have for you. Organisations from non-participating countries can still join a Eurostars consortium.
Era-Net is a co-fund under Horizon 2020 designed to support public-public partnership. This means that two public authorities or organisations work together to improve the effectiveness of their works in public sanitation or water services. The main idea within the scope is to implement a co-funded joint call for proposals leading to funding of trans-national research or innovation projects.
KTN and KTP
KTN are currently updating their models, and is to become Innovate UK KTN, bringing over 200 people into the Innovate UK group. There will be a joint working team of Innovate UK and KTN leaders, chaired by Indro Mukerjee, CEO Innovate UK, which will be responsible for setting the way of working and ensuring strategic alignment.
Cross-sector collaborations to bring innovation to market faster. They have a large and diverse network to provide industries with real challenges from large businesses to companies and innovators.
This is an incentive for innovation that produces environmentally and economically impactful creations. This is one of the main priorities of KTN. Companies will be connected with other companies with similar goals to increase the innovation in the fields of cross-sector battery systems, hydrogen economy, decarbonisation of ports and harbours, net zero places, and circular economies. For more information on these individual fields, see here.
This programme connects UK companies with the rest of the world. They take the best governments, societies, enterprises, institutions, and people around the world and connects them with the very best of the UK.
This is another primary focus of the KTN due to our need to connect with more countries around the world following Brexit.
R&D Tax Relief:
During R&D, many expenses can be relieved by up to 33%. These expenses include wages, prototypes, and many others. Most companies can apply for this during or after development, and can be applied for for up to 3 years after. For more information, see here.
The patent box scheme gives tax relief on the profits of patented items. This can give a reduction in corporation tax from 19% to 10%, more than an 11% decrease in tax paid. For more information, see here.
CapEx, or Capital Expenditures, are funds used by a company to gain or improve physical assets. These assets can be property, technology, equipment or others. Making capital expenditures can include repairing, purchasing, or building said physical assets.
Creative Industry Tax Relief:
A company can claim creative industry tax relief if it is both liable to corporation tax and is directly involved in one of the accepted creative industries:
museum or gallery exhibitions
It must also be involved in the decision making. Any films, animation, or television, along with video games, must be certified British by passing a cultural test. Each individual industry has a different relief, with a definitive list of each relief here.
The Seed Enterprise Investment Scheme is a way to raise money during the starting of trade. It does this by offering tax relief to individual investors who buy shares in your business. You can receive a maximum of £150,000 through these investments. The money raised must be spent within 3 years and must be spent on a qualifying trade, preparing to carry out said qualifying trade, or research and development expected to lead to a qualifying trade. A company can use this scheme if it carries out a new qualifying trade, it is established in the UK, is not trading on a recognised stock exchange, among others. For a full list of requirements, see here.
Local Enterprise Partnerships across England offer funding, support, or guidance to your business. There are over 38 Local Enterprise Partnerships in England, with a full list available here. They determine the local economic priorities and they undertake activities to drive economic growth and job creation, improve infrastructure, and raise workforce skills in the area.
Local grants are offered by the council and can be an easier alternative to grants such as Innovate UK's Smart Grant. They often offer less money, but with a much higher rate. Most local councils offer these grants on their website, or a website dedicated to their grants. It is also possible to contact the council directly and attempt to apply from there.
The National Centre for Universities and Business can help your business find a university that is both willing and able to help you. . They will help with the overseeing of innovation, with finding the best people to aid with your project, and with finding other businesses to collaborate with. They can offer memberships for both businesses and universities, so this is useful for both.
Incubators offer support and guidance to start-ups and early-stage businesses, along with resources, to companies that find these difficult to access. They tend to support businesses by finding them space to work in, networking opportunities, potential investors, workshops, reduced rates, and more.
Accelerators give access to investors, mentors, and various other support methods to help them grow into a stable and self sufficient business. It is typically for companies that have already been established and wish to progress further into becoming a larger company, and require guidance. Companies that are less established and not ready for an accelerator should instead consider an incubator.
Catalysts are physical centres with top of the line R&D centres, including labs, factories, offices, and more. They aid with the scaling up of new technologies via development with a series of non-profit centres and helped over 8000 SMEs in 2020 alone to achieve their goals, with a heavy focus on the coronavirus. Companies with innovative ideas should consider speaking with a catalyst centre to see what they can do to help.